I have not had a specific meeting with the organisation referred to or with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to discuss the opening of the Iranian market for Irish beef.
Total Irish agri-food exports to Iran in 2017 were around €11.5 million, the majority of which (€10.25 million) was accounted for by dairy exports. According to the CSO, 26 tonnes of beef were exported to Iran in 2017, but there have been no export of sheepmeat to-date. Iran was not one of the top 5 priority markets identified by Bord Bia for meat, as part of the market prioritisation exercise carried out at the request of my Department.
The role of my Department is to open up markets for the industry and it is then up to the industry, with the support of my Department and Bord Bia, to avail of these opportunities. However, the actual levels of exports will depend on a range of factors, including global supply and demand dynamics, currency fluctuations and individual customer requirements.
A veterinary health certificate for the export of beef from Ireland to Iran was agreed in March 2013. DAFM officials participated in a successful trade mission to Iran and Turkey in April 2016. While the trade mission was primarily dairy-focused, DAFM officials had the opportunity to meet with their Iranian counterparts in order to progress and ultimately agree sheepmeat access to the Iranian market and also to explore other common areas of interest. Access for sheepmeat was officially announced in October 2016. Therefore these markets are open at present but the resumption of exports is a matter for the industry.
Limited or no exports of meat to Iran can be explained by a combination of unfavourable trading conditions, cheaper supplies of beef from Brazil and of lamb from Australia to the Iranian market, and financial barriers. Work is on-going within the EU to devise measures to overcome financial barriers to trade between the EU and Iran.