Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 7 May 1969

Vol. 240 No. 5

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Trade with Iron Curtain Countries.


asked the Taoiseach the countries behind the Iron Curtain with which Ireland has an unfavourable trade balance; the amount of such trade deficits; and what action the Government intends to take to right the imbalance.

In the calendar year 1968, Ireland had an import excess in trade with the following East European countries: Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Rumania and the USSR. There was an export excess with Yugoslavia. With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to circulate in the Official Report a statement setting out the balances concerned.

In the case of countries with which we have an adverse trade balance, the general aim is to seek to improve the position by encouraging the expansion of exports.

The Government Departments concerned are keeping under continuous review the question of what special action might be taken to secure an increase in exports to East European countries, particularly to those countries with whom our trade is in greatest imbalance. We have recently furnished to the Soviet authorities a list of Irish export products for their consideration. It is hoped that, on the basis of this list, it will be possible to enter into negotiations for the development of trade between the two countries. So far as trade with the other East European countries is concerned, certain further steps that might be taken, including the possibility of concluding trade agreements, are being examined at present.

As the Deputy is aware, the wide range of grants, incentives and services which the Government have made available to exporters, through Córas Tráchtála, has recently been expanded by the introduction of a programme of new incentives and services aimed at stimulating and assisting a more rapid development of exports to markets other than Britain. I might add that, under this programme, Córas Tráchtála has appointed a marketing adviser with special responsibility for developing exports to Eastern Europe.

Following is the statement:—


Import excess






East Germany











Export excess



Would the Taoiseach not agree that our effort to increase exports to and reduce imports from those countries has been a dismal failure? Would he not think the time has come to inform those countries we are prepared to deal with them only on a barter system?

We have taken appropriate action in at least one case and certain action is being considered in the case of other countries.

Would the Taoiseach not agree we are importing from countries behind the Iron Curtain and from other European countries produce that could and should be manufactured in our own country; and does he not further agree that this imbalance of trade is doing harm to the workers in our own factories? Does he not think it is time we did more about our Buy Irish Campaign?

The Deputy made a similar allegation here last week in respect of France and, although I pointed out that the great bulk of the imports from France were of a kind that is not normally produced here, he repeats the allegation without specifying what he has in mind. Normally speaking, the bulk of our imports from these countries consists of goods we do not produce ourselves or do not produce in sufficient quantity or quality for the purpose for which they are required here. Our exporters and manufacturers are entitled to have access to the cheapest raw materials they can get in order to compete successfully with exporters from countries who have access to these raw materials. There are many considerations involved. I can assure the Deputy this matter is being kept under close review and steps are being taken to correct the imbalance.

Since we agree it is important to correct any trade imbalance, could the Taoiseach give any explanation of the apparent delay in supplying a list to the Soviet authorities when they requested it about a year ago?

Certain international events which took place in the meantime caused our delay.