Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (692)

Carol Nolan

Question:

692. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if it is policy to expand market opportunities and increase competition for the beef sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2361/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Gaining access to new markets and opening new trading opportunities for Irish exports while simultaneously strengthening established export markets has been and remains integral to my Department’s strategic approach to the development of the agri-food sector, including the beef sector.

Between 2016 and 2019, Irish agri-exports to third country markets (those outside of the EU and the UK) increased by nearly €700 million to a value of €4.3 billion. In that same period, the value of Irish meat exports to third country markets grew by nearly 50% to a value of €575 million.

The growth of exports to third countries is aligned with my Department’s market diversification efforts which have been considerably increased since the Brexit vote in 2016. Agreement has been secured for the export of beef to several new third country markets, including: China, Ukraine, Qatar, and Kuwait. Furthermore, during this period, enhanced market access for Irish beef has been agreed with countries including the US, Japan, Canada, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

Ministerial-led trade missions are an important feature of the development and diversification strategy for the agri-food sector. As announced recently, our trade mission agenda for 2021 is planned to include the following priority markets:

- In Asia - China, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam

- In North America – the United States of America and Mexico

- key European destinations such as Italy and the UK

- and an exploration of markets in West Africa.

The format of each mission will be adapted to suit the prevailing Covid conditions but I am hopeful that it will include in-person trade missions.

Our enhanced focus on developing new market opportunities is a key part of my Department’s response to the twin challenges of the economic impact of Covid-19 and Brexit. It is, of course, the role of industry to build on those opportunities to enhance the competitiveness of Irish beef exports on a range of markets.