I propose to take Questions Nos. 282 to 286, inclusive, together.
The pursuit and development of new markets, while also increasing our share of existing EU markets, is an ongoing and central component of the strategic development of the agri-food sector, as evidenced by its placement right at the centre of Food Wise 2025, the industry’s strategy for development over the coming decade. Indeed, this is all the more relevant after the UK’s decision to leave the EU, which presents significant new challenges for the agri-food sector in particular. In accordance with this development, Brexit has now been added as a standing item to the agenda of the Food Wise High Level Implementation Committee.
In terms of the European dimension to our response, additional funding that I have provided to Bord Bia - including through Budget 2017 - has been used to support market diversification efforts by companies through its Market Intensification Programme, which was launched in late October 2016, and to support promotional campaigns for Irish beef in Germany and the Netherlands.
In addition, Bord Bia has been providing information to companies on how to establish a presence in other EU countries, and using its network of offices to build long-term relationships in those markets, including through participation in trade fairs. It has also recently opened a new office in Warsaw to expand its support in Eastern Europe.
Looking beyond Europe, Food Wise 2025 outlines the huge potential for growth in agri-food exports to new and emerging markets, particularly in Asia, Africa and the Gulf region. The value of exports to emerging markets in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Central/South America stood at almost €2.2 billion in 2015, which represented an increase of 82% on the figure for 2010. Exports to these markets now account for 21% of total food and drink exports compared to 16% in 2010. This growth in share of exports occurred during a period when total food and drink exports jumped by more than 45%.
Growth to emerging markets has been led by Asia, with trade growing by more than 250% to €955 million, and led by China, which recorded a fourfold increase. Exports to other Asian markets more than doubled over the period to €300 million. Again, Bord Bia has been intensifying its work in these markets, and has opened a new office in Singapore to service eight emerging markets in South East Asia.
Trade to Africa grew by more than 50% over the period to €535 million. Exports to the Middle East jumped by a third to €380 million. Trade to Central/South America was 60% higher at €91 million in 2015.
In keeping with these priorities, I led a Trade Mission to China and Singapore in September 2016 and at the same time Minister Doyle led a Trade Mission to Vietnam and South Korea in September 2016. In November I also led a trade mission to Morocco, which was extended at senior official level to include Algeria. Earlier in 2016, senior officials accompanied a Bord Bia trade mission to Iran, and travelled on to Turkey and met with officials to discuss the opening of trade in live animals, which was subsequently secured.
I will lead a further Trade Mission to the Gulf Region at the end of February. This will cover the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. My Department is currently working with Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland to finalise the arrangements for this mission, which will include participants from across the agri-food sector, and will feature extensive trade contacts as well as political discussions with my counterparts in the host countries. The mission will serve to enhance and improve our existing levels of market access in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It will also promote Ireland’s reputation as a producer of high quality, safe and sustainably produced meat and dairy products in the Gulf region.
I am also considering a range of other destinations for the remainder of 2017, although no decision has yet been made in terms of content or timing. Again, markets in Asia, Africa and America are likely to feature prominently in these considerations, and I am of course ready to respond as appropriate to other opportunities that may arise.