In 2018 my Department continued to open new markets and deepen trade within existing markets for Irish agrifood exporters. The highlight in this respect was the decision of the Chinese authorities to open their market to Irish beef imports by listing a number of approved Irish beef establishments. Other notable achievements were agreements with Qatar and Kuwait which allowed for the importation of Irish beef, sheepmeat and poultry to their markets.
Against the backdrop of EU-agreed trade deals such as those completed with Canada, Japan and Mexico, my Department continues to prioritise efforts to gain access to new third country markets and, equally importantly, to deepen existing markets for Irish agrifood products.
Trade Missions play an important role in this regard. 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. I have led very successful missions to the Gulf Region, the US, Mexico, Japan and Korea in 2017, and to the US, Canada, China, Indonesia and Malaysia in 2018. These missions included participants from across the agrifood sector and featured extensive trade contacts as well as high-level political discussions.
March 2019 has already seen the first trade mission of the year, this time to Turkey, primarily focusing on Live Trade. The remainder of 2019 will see missions to China in May, Japan and South Korea in June, and Algeria and Egypt in November. These destinations are in keeping with Bord Bia's recent market prioritisation exercise, which identified priorities in new and more mature markets, and will provide valuable market intelligence both for industry operators and policy makers.
The pursuit and development of new markets for Irish agrifood exports is of course an ongoing and central component of the strategic development of the agrifood sector, as evidenced by its placement right at the centre of Food Wise 2025, the industry’s strategy for development over the coming decade. Food Wise 2025 outlines the huge potential for growth in agrifood exports to new and emerging markets, particularly in Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Gulf region. This is where our efforts will be focused for the foreseeable future, particularly given the need to diversify our markets and to reduce our reliance on traditional destinations such as the UK.