Dáil Éireann - Volume 383 - 19 October, 1988

Written Answers. - New Zealand Lamb.

153. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if his attention has been drawn to the appearance of New Zealand lamb on the Irish market; if he can quantify the market penetration of New Zealand lamb in this country in a full year; whether New Zealand lamb will be readily available in the EC; the effect this is likely to have on exports of Irish lamb; if he has satisfied himself with this development; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

[116] Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): Sheepmeat is bound in the GATT at a duty of 20%. However, with a view to limiting imports, the Community has since 1980 operated a Voluntary Restraint Agreement with each of the principal supplying countries, including New Zealand. Under the agreement with New Zealand, that country limits its exports to the Community to a maximum quantity of 245,500 tonnes annually. The agreement also requires New Zealand to respect the sensitive nature of certain Community markets such as Ireland and France. In return for New Zealand's cooperation regarding volume and sensitive zone status the duty payable on imports of lamb from New Zealand has been reduced to 10%.

The impending review of the EC sheepmeat regime will involve both external and internal arrangements. The Commission has just presented a proposal to the EC Council on the internal regime and negotiations with third countries on import arrangements are proceeding.

The Voluntary Restraint Agreement between New Zealand and the Community recognises Ireland as a sensitive zone which has a zero import quota. Nevertheless, there are occasional reports of illegal importations of New Zealand lamb into Ireland and these are investigated by Customs and Excise. However, there has been no concrete evidence of any illegal importation in the past two years.