Gaining third country market access and opening trading opportunities around the world for Irish exports have long been integral to my Department’s strategic approach to the development of the agri-food sector. This is particularly important as we deal with the challenges presented by Brexit.
Trade missions continue to play a key role, and in recent years the choice of destinations for Trade Missions has been informed by, inter alia, the need to leverage EU Free Trade Agreements. For example, successful visits have taken place in recent years to Japan, South Korea, Canada and Mexico, all of which have concluded FTAs with the European Union. Improved market access has been achieved through these visits, including the abolition of the age restriction on beef exports to Japan and the progression of beef access in South Korea.
My Department has also placed four additional Agriculture Attaches in the Irish Embassy network in recent years, in Berlin, Tokyo and Mexico City in 2019, and in Seoul, South Korea, in 2020. These latter three appointments have also been informed in part by the need to build on EU FTAs with these countries.
Of course, our traditional "in person" method of developing trade with customers is not feasible currently. To that end, Minister Heydon and I, in conjunction with Bord Bia, held a series of Virtual Trade Missions during November and December with customers in Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. These interactive engagements included Irish industry and existing and potential customers overseas. There has also been a series of virtual meetings with key international customers from Germany, the UK, Japan, China, UAE and SE Asia.