Written Answers. - Beef Exports.

Paul Connaughton


14 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps, if any, his Department has taken in relation to the expansion of traditional markets for Irish beef; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22073/98]

I give the closest attention to the export trade in beef and have instructed that the Department ent of Foreign Affairs should accord a high priority to facilitating this very important export business.

The role of the Department of Foreign Affairs in exports relates principally to securing market access for Irish products. In this it works closely with the Department of Agriculture and Food. In the third country markets which are so important for the Irish beef trade, sustained diplomatic and ministerial contacts have ensured that the quality of Irish produce and our high veterinary standards are made known to the authorities of the importing countries. As a result, markets in Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries have been open to Irish beef virtually without interruption over the last three years. Following extended contacts through the Embassy in Tehran, the Minister for Agriculture has recently announced a new veterinary agreement with Iran which should enable exports to that country to resume shortly. I am confident that when the present economic difficulties in Russia are overcome, Russian buyers also will return to Irish meat factories for supplies. A Libyan delegation came to Dublin this summer at my invitation, and agreed to reopen the Libyan market to live cattle from Ireland. I expect this agreement to be implemented very shortly.
Within the European Single Market, Irish beef is traded freely. Irish Embassies in those countries are fully supportive of the marketing activities of An Bord Bia.