I thank Deputy Smith for his kind words at the outset this afternoon. The crisis in Ukraine continues to be a major focus for the European Union. On 29 July last, the EU agreed a package of restrictive measures targeting sectoral co-operation and exchanges with the Russian Federation. These measures limit access by Russian state-owned financial institutions to EU capital markets, impose an embargo on new contracts for trade in arms, establish an export ban for dual-use goods for military end users and curtail Russian access to sensitive technologies, particularly in the field of energy. These measures came into force on 1 August. On 7 August, the Russian Federation imposed wide-ranging sanctions on food imports from the EU, the US, Norway and Canada.
In response to a marked intensification in fighting in eastern Ukraine, the EU moved last month to reinforce the restrictions put in place in July. They are carefully calibrated and can be intensified or lessened according to how developments unfold on the ground in Ukraine. The EU measures apply to future contracts and agreements. Our current assessment is that the direct impact on the Irish economy of these sanctions is likely to be modest. It is clear, however, that the retaliatory measures taken by Russia in August have greater implications for Ireland’s agrifood exports. The Minister, Deputy Coveney, has described the ban as a significant setback to our strategic plans to further access the Russian market. He is fully aware of the need to seek out alternative markets for Irish agrifood exports. He has already had some success in this regard, with the recent opening of the Philippines to Irish beef, pigmeat and sheepmeat and Vietnam to Irish pigmeat.
The Commission has also introduced a range of supports for EU farmers, growers and producers to mitigate the impact of the Russian ban that will benefit Irish food exporters.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
Specific measures are being taken by other Government Departments and their respective State agencies to examine potential in markets other than Russia in order to help alleviate the effects on exports from Ireland as a result of the EU-Russian trade sanctions, not least the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, in view of market access for beef exports to Russia. My Department will continue to liaise with other Departments and State agencies, including in the context of the Export Trade Council, in closely monitoring the impact on Ireland of these sanctions and taking necessary steps as required.