Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State Martin Heydon have said they are “engaging in a series of market development and promotion events on key international markets”, in collaboration with Bord Bia and the Irish Embassy network.

This comes as the ministers launched the Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Report 2019-2020 today (Tuesday, November 17).

The report provides an overview of the “substantial progress” made in increasing access for food and drink exports to international markets outside of Europe.

The report highlights the ‘successes’ in this period, including: expanding beef access to Japan and opening that market for sheep meat products; opening the Mexican market for frozen pig meat; and renegotiating bilateral dairy certificate with several importing countries.

The department says the report provides an insight into the “continuous hard work undertaken at political, diplomatic and official levels which goes into achieving successful market access into existing and new markets”.

This work includes “completing very detailed market access questionnaires, facilitating incoming audits and agreeing veterinary health certificates”.

Commenting, Minister McConalogue said: ‘‘The work of my department on market access is focused not only on the opening of access to new international markets, but also on the equally challenging work of enhancing and retaining that access.”

Minister Heydon added: ‘‘A core aspect of my role, as I see it, will be to develop relationships with counterparts in key third country markets to complement and to advance the market access work being done by my officials.”

Trade missions

Both ministers drew attention to the overall growth in agri-food exports to international markets in recent years.

Overall, agricultural exports to countries outside of Europe have increased from around €3.7 billion to €4.3 billion in the period 2016 to 2019. This represents an increase of €627 million or 17% in a four-year timeframe.

Between 2010 and 2019, agricultural exports to international markets increased as an overall proportion of our total agri-exports, from 23% to 30%.

Minister McConalogue commented: “Over the next few weeks, my department and Bord Bia will host a dairy-focused virtual trade mission to Southeast Asia, covering Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Bord Bia’s research has identified strong potential for export growth to these markets. In a world of uncertainty, meaningful engagement with Ireland’s growing customer base throughout the world is more important than ever.

“This innovative approach, in bringing trade missions online, creates an opportunity to further deepen trading relationships between Ireland and key customers in these regions.”