Developing increased EU trade opportunities continues to be an integral part of my Department’s response to the challenges posed by Brexit.
Encouragingly, exports to our more traditional and existing markets such as other EU Member States exceeded €4 billion in 2019, for the third year running. Notably strong growth was evident in pigmeat, poultry and dairy exports, with values increasing to the Netherlands, Italy and Spain in particular.
Over the last number of budgets additional funding has been provided to Bord Bia to support our market diversification efforts. These resources have been used to further Bord Bia’s Market Intensification Programme and to support promotional campaigns such as 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. This work is supported by my Department's network of agriculture attachés in the EU.
Trade missions play a key role in customer relationship building, but of course the traditional "in person" visits are not currently feasible. Therefore, my Department, in collaboration with Bord Bia, led a series of Virtual Trade missions and business meetings during the fourth quarter of 2020. These had a strong European dimension, including a webinar with key German customers which included their top six retailers, and a virtual trade reception hosted by the Irish Embassy in Paris to engage with key customers in France.
These highly innovative events have been met with positive feedback from all participants, and more such events are planned for 2021. We will continue to avail of every resource in furthering market access and trade advancement in Europe and further abroad, and I am ready to respond as appropriate to other opportunities that may arise.