Dáil Éireann - Volume 428 - 30 March, 1993

Written Answers. - Access to EC Markets.

112. Miss Quill asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment if there is a need to take measures to ensure fairer access to EC markets for third world producers of textiles and clothing; if so, the steps, if any, he intends to take to remedy the existing situation where countries designated by the United Nations as least developed countries are precluded from trading on any reasonable basis with the EC; if he will accept that these countries need to trade with the developed world if they are to survive; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. Quinn): The EC is party to the Multifibres Arrangement (MFA) which regulates access to the Community market for textiles and clothing from Third Countries. Ireland has obligations [1180] under the MFA by virtue of our membership of the Community.

The MFA, as a derogation from general GATT rules, has been in operation since the early 1970s and has been renewed on a number of occasions since then.

The latest position is that, in accordance with the Mandate given by the Council of Ministers, in October, 1992, Agreements have been concluded with many supplier countries for the next 2/3 years or until such time as eventual agreement is reached, overall, on the Uruguay Round.

Ireland and the Community are fully aware of the obligations to provide special treatment and market access for least developed countries and this is taken fully into account in Agreements with these countries. For example, Bangladesh is dealt with as a least developed country and is treated in a very favourable way by the Community in the Agreement signed in mid-December, 1992. There are no quota limits in this Agreement but a number of sensitive categories are subject simply to surveillance.

The other matters raised by the Deputy are still under consideration by the Community and others in the context of the eventual conclusion of the Uruguay Round where a draft agreement on Clothing and Textiles has yet to be agreed by the Council of Ministers and the GATT contracting parties.