Written Answers. - Egg Imports.

34.

asked the Minister for Agriculture the steps he intends taking to stop the dumping of eggs mainly from Northern Ireland, which amounted to 160 million in 1985, as this dumping is having a severe affect on the home producers in this country.

Under EC rules there is free trade in eggs between here and Northern Ireland. I am, of course, concerned at the level of imports but it should be noted that imports have been declining since 1981 when they accounted for 35 per cent of our market as against 21 per cent in 1985.

In the long term the only effective way to withstand competition from imports is through improved efficiency in production, packaging and marketing. In this connection the scheme of grants for egg packing centres, first introduced in 1982, proved very successful in improving the home industry's competitiveness with the results I have stated. The scheme has been reintroduced this year to help advance rationalisation and this should help to make further inroads on the level of imports.

Question No. 38 re-entered for oral reply.