North trade tariff cuts raised

 

THE O'Neill cabinet sought special concessions for Northern goods entering the Southern market in the run up to the Anglo Irish trade agreement of 1965.

At a cabinet meeting on August 11th 1965, the Minister for Commerce, Brian Faulkner, reported on discussions with the Dublin authorities on the possibility of tariff reductions for some Northern Ireland industries at a faster rate than that envisaged under the Anglo Irish trade proposals.

The reaction of the Irish government, he added, had been favourable. But the Dublin authorities had asked for direct talks between the Irish government and its Northern counterpart.

He (Faulkner) had told the Board of Trade that the Stormont, government could not negotiate in a field in which it had no powers and the Board of Trade had agreed to allow him to act as its agent.

Since Sean Lemass's visit to London and the announcement that an Anglo Irish free trade agreement was being considered Northern manufacturers had been anticipating worthwhile benefits.

If tariffs were to be dismantled over a 10 year period and the Northern Ireland government had made no attempt to secure more favourable conditions, the reaction would be adverse, the Minister said.

Dublin no doubt expected political kudos from being able to claim that it had done something for "the North", but equally it was practically and politically important to secure advantages for Northern Ireland's manufacturers, if possible.

Ministers agreed that talks with Dublin should proceed on Faulkner's lines.