I propose to take Questions Nos. 698 and 699 together.
Developing increased market access and furthering trade opportunities abroad is an integral part of my Department’s response to the ongoing challenge of Brexit. We have been particularly active on the European dimension of this response. For example, additional funding provided to Bord Bia has been used to further its Market Intensification Programme, and to support promotional campaigns for Irish beef in Germany and the Netherlands. Bord Bia has also been providing information to companies on how to establish a presence in other EU countries, and using its network of offices to build long-term relationships in those markets, including through participation in trade fairs.
Trade missions have always played a key role in customer relationship building. Of course, the traditional "in person" visits are not currently feasible, so my Department, in collaboration with Bord Bia, led a series of virtual Trade Missions and business meetings during the 4th quarter of 2020. As part of this exercise, Minister Heydon and I addressed a number of events organised by Bord Bia, including a webinar with key German customers that involved its top six retailers, and a virtual trade reception hosted by the Irish Embassy in Paris.
This highly innovative approach has been met with positive feedback from all participants, with more such events planned for 2021. We will continue to avail of every resource in furthering market access and trade advancement in Europe and further abroad. Indeed, the Government's focus on, and commitment to, this objective has also been illustrated by its appointment of my colleague, Martin Heydon T.D., as Minister of State with specific responsibility for this area. In addition, my Department's International Trade activities are being re-organised and further developed, as we deal with the twin challenges of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.