China, Japan, Thailand to be priority areas for trade in 2021 – Heydon

China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam are among the priority areas of focus for trade agreements for 2021, according to minister at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) Martin Heydon, who has responsibility for new market development.

He was speaking today (Wednesday, January 13) at the launch of Bord Bia’s Export Performance & Prospects 2020/2021 Report.

“Gaining new market access and opening new trading opportunities around the world for Irish exports, is integral to my department’s strategic approach to the development of the agri-food sector,” Minister Heydon said.

Minister Martin Heydon

“For 2021, I can confirm that my department, in consultation with Bord Bia, are finalising our trade mission programme. The format of each mission will be adapted to suit the prevailing Covid-19 conditions, but I am hopeful that it will include in-person trade missions,” Minister Heydon said.

Trade missions in the future

“Last November, together with Minister [Charlie] McConalogue, we led dairy-focused ‘virtual’ trade missions to five key markets in South East Asia. I was very impressed with the level of engagement by international customers in the online format devised by Bord Bia, and I hope that participating Irish companies will build on those opportunities,” the minister added.

DAFM trade mission agenda for 2021 is planned to include engagement with the following priority markets:

  • China, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam;
  • The United States of America and Mexico;
  • Key European destinations such as Italy and the UK;
  • Exploration of markets in West Africa.

Future challenges

“I would like to state that our enhanced focus on market development is a key part of my department’s response to the twin challenges of the economic impact of Covid-19 and Brexit,” Minister Heydon continued.

Things will improve for all of us with the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine. We need to work together for ‘Team Ireland’, for all the farmers, fishermen and all involved in this exciting sector. There are tough times ahead but we will get through it together as this is a resilient sector.

“Without our world class producers in the food and drinks sector, we would not be here today recognising the enormous contribution they have made to our exports in a very difficult year,” the minister concluded.