I am pleased to report that my Department has finalised the agreement on market access to the Japanese market for Irish sheepmeat with the relevant Japanese officials. During my recent successful trade mission to Japan in June, I announced the agreement in principle of access to the Japanese market for Irish sheepmeat. My officials, building on the momentum of this work, have now finalised the technical details of the agreement which came into effect on Friday, 19th July.
A trader notice will issue shortly informing industry of the details of this agreement, including the requisite requirements that must be met to export sheepmeat to the Japanese market. The final step is for my Department to inform the Japanese authorities of the plants which are meeting the requisite standards for the export of sheepmeat to Japan.
My Department does not set export targets. The role of my Department is to open up markets, to improve market access and to remove barriers to trade; the industry must then take advantage of these opportunities. I am hopeful that Irish sheep meat exports will follow the same success that dairy, pig meat and beef sectors have enjoyed in Japan to date.
Japan is one of the top five priority markets for meat identified by Bord Bia as part of their market prioritisation exercise. Team Ireland's presence in Japan is expanding with the appointment of my Department's first agricultural attaché to Japan, due to take up his post in Tokyo in September, and the recent recrutiment of a Bord Bia market specialist also based in Tokyo.