Thursday, 30 April 1970
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Ryan: asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce Ireland's exports to and imports from Czechoslovakia in each of the last five years; and what steps are being taken to improve the balance of trade with that country.
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 Deputy is, no doubt, aware that the Government, through Córas Tráchtála, have made a wide range of grants, incentives and services available to exporters and these, of course, apply to exports to Czechoslovakia.
Certain new steps that might be taken with a view to increasing exports to Czechoslovakia are being examined at present but it is not possible, as yet, to say what the outcome of this examination will be. Preliminary discussions on the question of trade have taken place with the Czechoslovakian authorities.
Mr. Ryan: Would the Minister not consider using the powers available to him to limit imports from Czechoslovakia to a scale which would be on the same level as our exports to that country, first, because economically it would be the wise thing to do and, secondly, because the representatives of the so-called trade mission from Czechoslovakia are engaging here in political activities that are inimical to fundamental freedoms and rights of Czechoslovak citizens to seek refuge in Ireland?
Mr. Colley: With regard to the first part of the Deputy's supplementary I can assure him that if at any time it seems to me that the balance of advantage to this country would lie in applying such import restrictions, I would then apply such restrictions. In so far as the second part of the Deputy's supplementary is concerned, this matter has been discussed in some detail earlier today and I do not propose to pursue it further.
Mr. Ryan: Would the Minister not agree that some of the articles imported from Czechoslovakia could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be classified as essential and would he not further agree that there would be no resulting loss to Ireland if the importation of these articles were to be discontinued? Having regard to the desirability of ensuring a fair balance of trade between all countries, would the Minister not consider that he should now use the powers available to him, and would he not agree that it is only by the use of such powers that he will ever succeed in getting any country to treat seriously Ireland's insistence that trade with foreign countries should be on a fair level, that is on a £ for £ basis?
Mr. Colley: The matter is not nearly as simple as might be inferred by the Deputy's question but I can assure the House that the weapon available, to which the Deputy refers, will be used unhesitatingly if it seems to us that the net result of this will be an advantage to us.
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