Beef market access will be a key component of any 2017 trade missions, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, has said.

Speaking in the Dail last week, the Minister said that planning for trade missions in 2017 has now commenced.

Furthermore, the Minister said his Department is in the process of reviewing its approach to market access and the resources allocated therein in accordance with new and emerging challenges and priorities such as Brexit and the potential for increased beef imports to the European.

“As an exporting country, accessing new markets is crucial to the long-term sustainability of our agrifood sector, especially in the beef sector.

“For beef exports, 2015 was a very successful year. According to the CSO, overall exports of beef totalled some €2.2 billion that year. Beef exports to the end of September 2016 are running at €1.65 billion.”

Meanwhile, the Minister said that third-country markets are an increasingly important alternative outlet for the beef industry.

“My Department works very closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Bord Bia, the industry and the European Commission on a wide range of market access issues to secure additional markets and maintain and enhance the existing markets.”

I am acutely aware of the need to develop new and alternative markets, given the changing global demographics and emerging economies in Asia and elsewhere.

“This is a crucial component of the Food Wise 2025 strategy and has been given an added impetus by the outcome of the UK referendum on Brexit.”

As a small open economy, Minister Creed said that Ireland supports trade liberalisation and recognises the benefits of trade agreements with third countries.

However, such agreements must be balanced and must serve our offensive and defensive interests, he said.

Earlier this year the Minister and Minister of State Andrew Doyle led trade missions to China, Vietnam, South Korea and Singapore.

“These missions resulted in positive progress on the next steps in gaining beef market access to China, South Korea and Vietnam, including, inter alia, a commitment by the Chinese officials in the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, AQSIQ, to expedite consideration of a technical inspection report from their visit to Ireland earlier this year as well as the submission of detailed beef questionnaires to the relevant authorities in South Korea and Vietnam.

“Earlier this month, I led a trade mission to Morocco, and my officials also travelled to Algeria, with a focus on live cattle exports. Live cattle exports to Turkey also commenced in September following our recent approval to export live cattle there.”