The pursuit and development of new markets for Irish agri-food exports is a constant and central component of the strategic development of the industry, as evidenced by its placement at the heart of Food Wise 2025. It is particularly important given the need to diversify our markets and reduce our reliance on traditional destinations such as the UK.
Against the backdrop of EU-agreed trade deals such as those completed with Canada, Japan and Mexico, my Department continues its efforts to open new markets while further deepening trade with existing markets for Irish agri-food exporters.
For example, in 2018, it facilitated the decision of the Chinese authorities to open their market to Irish beef imports by listing a number of approved Irish beef establishments. Other notable achievements during 2018 were agreements with Qatar and Kuwait, which allowed for the importation of Irish beef, sheepmeat and poultry to their markets.
In April 2019, we saw the opening of the Ukrainian market for Irish beef and pork. During my June trade mission to Japan, an agreement was reached in principle to allow access for Irish Sheepmeat. This development followed the announcement last month of the removal of the under-30 months restriction for Irish beef exports to Japan. This means that all Irish beef is now eligible for export to this very valuable market.
Trade Missions play an important role in this work. In 2018, I led successful missions to the US, Canada, China, Indonesia and Malaysia, and an extensive trade mission itinerary is also being pursued in 2019. In March, Turkey was visited, primarily focusing on Live Trade. In May, I visited China. This was quickly followed with an extensive mission to Japan and South Korea in June. My next scheduled mission is to Algeria and Egypt in November.
Overall, agri-food exports to countries outside the EU have increased from around €2.7 billion to €3.6 billion in the period 2014 to 2018. This represents very rapid growth of 36% in that four-year timeframe.