Hope for live export reopening as Creed meets Turkish minister

Trade and live exports were top of the agenda as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed met with his Turkish counterpart, Dr. Bekir Pakdemirli, Minister for Agriculture and Forestry, in Istanbul today (Thursday, March 7).

The meeting covered existing and future opportunities for technical cooperation and trade in agri-food products between Ireland and Turkey.

Discussions particularly focused on prospects for renewed live cattle exports from Ireland to Turkey.

The minister had good news on that front, with Turkey considering the option of reopening its market in the latter half of 2019.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister Creed commented: “This was a useful opportunity to discuss a range of mutually important matters with Minister Pakdemirli.

“Turkey has become an important market for Irish livestock in recent years and I was keen to impress upon the minister the importance of the Turkish market for Ireland and our desire to re-establish trade as soon as possible.”

Continuing, Minister Creed said: “Turkey offers significant potential as a destination for Irish cattle exports, although import licenses are currently suspended by the Turkish Ministry due to over-supply in the Turkish market.

Since 2016, more than 60,000 Irish cattle have been exported to Turkey, including both breeding animals and cattle for further fattening.

“The stringent system of animal health and welfare controls operated by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on the sea journey ensures that Irish cattle arrive in Turkey in excellent condition, a point acknowledged by the Turkish delegation.”

Commenting on the prospects of a re-opening of the market, Minister Creed said: “We now have a clearer understanding for the reasons behind the Turkish government’s decision to suspend the issuing of new import licenses in late 2018.

“There are obvious concerns in Turkey regarding over supply in the beef market, a matter which Minister Pakdemirli is determined to address.

I’m pleased however that the minister indicated his intention to consider the re-opening of the market in the second half of 2019.

“I assured my Turkish colleague that there is significant interest from industry in resuming that trade.”

Both Ministers discussed the close ties between Ireland and Turkey in the area of technical cooperation and exchanges.

Under the EU’s TAIEX programme, DAFM veterinary officials provided a knowledge transfer programme in 2017 to the Turkish Ministry in Ankara on how Ireland administered the EU laws on Animal Welfare; there was a keen interest by the Turkish side on Ireland’s use of control posts, assembly centres, livestock markets and the transport and welfare of animals.

Turkish officials visited Ireland last month under the TAIEX programme, including visits to meat plants, livestock marts, assembly centres and ports, to understand how animal welfare controls are administered.

Sustainable Food Systems Ireland (SFSI) also hosted a study visit by Turkish officials in 2017 to understand Ireland’s agri-environmental programmes and approach to sustainable land management practices.

“Minister Pakdemirli and I reflected on the importance of such exchanges in understanding and maintaining the highest standards of animal welfare, which is an essential prerequisite to any trade in live animals.

“We agreed that officials would explore opportunities for future cooperation and a visit by a Turkish technical team, including officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and ESK [the Turkish Meat and Milk Board] is planned for summer 2019.”