Irish beef exports increased in value to €2.4 billion in 2018 and were exported to approximately 70 countries all over the world according to trade statistics from the Central Statistics Office, CSO. Opening new markets and expanding existing markets are a key part of our response to the challenges and uncertainty posed by Brexit and are in line with the market development theme of the Food Wise 2025 strategy. In April 2018, the Chinese market was successfully opened to Irish beef and my officials continue to work towards opening and enhancing access to as many markets as possible. Beef markets have also recently been opened in Ukraine, Kuwait and Qatar.
The EU-Japan economic partnership agreement, the largest free trade agreement agreed by the EU, entered into force on 1 February 2019. This provides for considerable additional market access in Japan for beef in the amount of approximately 65,000 tonnes. This presents a significant opportunity to grow Irish beef exports to Japan, which in 2018 were worth some €3.6 million. Furthermore, earlier this year my Department secured an agreement to remove the 30-month age restriction on beef exports to Japan, the first EU member state to achieve this.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA, between the EU and Canada, which entered into force provisionally in September 2017, removed more than 99% of tariffs. Enhanced access to the Canadian market for EU beef was secured as part of the agreement. In 2018, some €2.8 million or 585 tonnes of Irish beef was exported to Canada and this is expected to increase over time.
The role of my Department is to open 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.