Department confident of key Chinese visit for Irish beef exports in 2017

It looks increasingly likely that Chinese authorities will visit Ireland again in 2017 to complete one of the final steps in opening the market there to Irish beef.

Brendan Gleeson, Assistant Secretary with the Department of Agriculture said he was reasonably confident that Ireland would receive a CNCN visit in 2017.

This is important as a successful visit would clear the way for protocols and certificates with Chinese authorities to be agreed.

Speaking at the Bord Bia Meat Market Seminar in Kildare today, Gleeson said the Chinese market has been a significant one for Irish agri-food sector since 2012, as exports have increased two-fold to reach €610m.

Moving onto the US beef market, Gleeson said it is estimated that approximately €30m of Irish beef has been shipped to the US since the market opened.

“The US market has been reasonably lucrative with the trade that has gone in there,” he said.

However, he said that there has been a long running disagreement between the EU and US on hormone-treated beef.

He added that the US Trade Representative (USTR) is considering the possibility of imposing import tariffs on beef imported from the EU, and this would be a significant concern in terms of developing the US industry for Irish beef.

The Department representative added that a number of EU Member States have shown interest in exporting sheepmeat to the US, but the TSE ban in the US still has to be lifted in the US.

“We think there is a significant market for Irish lamb in the US.” he said.

Egypt a significant market for Irish beef

The Department of Agriculture’s Assistant Secretary also commented on the recently announced opening of the Egyptian market for Irish beef.

“I think there is potential for significant Irish beef exports to Egypt,” he said.

He added that the Egyptian previously took about 100,000t of beef from Ireland, valued at approximately €300m, however, he said that this was achieved with while export refunds were in operation.

Egypt is strongly dependent on exports from Australia and India, he said, and given that Australian beef prices have increased, it looks likely that Egypt will import less from the Australia in 2017.

Five Irish plants have been approved to commence exports to Egypt under the agreement, once the necessary technical arrangements are in place.

Egypt banned EU beef exports in the late 1990’s and at the time, it was one of the largest markets for Irish beef.