Trade Missions play an important role in market development, and I have been very active on this front in recent years as we strive to gain, and then develop, a presence in as many global markets as possible. As part of my 2019 Trade Mission schedule, I plan to lead a Government agri-food trade mission to Japan and South Korea in June.
Given that Free Trade Agreements between the EU and Japan and South Korea are now in place, it is an opportune time to build on the trade mission that I led to those countries in November 2017 and to again highlight Ireland as a source of high quality and safe agri-food, including dairy products, beef, sheepmeat, pigmeat, poultry, drinks, seafood, food ingredients and beverages.
As part of its market prioritisation exercise, Bord Bia has identified both countries among those that present trade opportunities for Ireland. Indeed, Bord Bia will be opening an office in Tokyo and has also received EU funding to promote beef and pigmeat to South Korea.
Japan is the world’s third largest economy and one of the largest meat importers globally. It is already Ireland’s third most import trade destination in Asia, with €114m worth of agri-food produce exported there in 2018. This was a large increase on the €56m worth of product exported in 2016. The main driver behind this increase is pigmeat (€41m in exports in 2018, compared to €14m in 2016). In fact, Japan is the fifth most important destination for Irish pig meat globally. Other notable areas are dairy produce (€40m in exports in 2018 compared with €15m in 2016) and fish (€14.3m).
I also see great opportunities in South Korea, particularly given that it is already an important destination for pigmeat & seafood exports, with nearly €14m in each category in 2018. Of course I will use the visit to meet with the Korean authorities as part of our determined effort to secure market access for Irish beef.
I have no doubt that this trade mission will be very valuable in both promoting Irish food and drink exports and in further developing relationships at political and official level. My experience has been that such contacts are central to Ireland’s efforts to gain new market access, and to developing existing levels of access where these have been secured.