Ireland ‘more than willing’ to increase trade with China – McConalogue

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has told the Chinese Ambassador that Ireland will be “more than willing” to increase trade cooperation with the Asian country.

In a meeting yesterday (Tuesday, September 30), Minister McConalogue highlighted that China is Ireland’s third-largest agri-food export market outside the EU.

The Minister of State with responsibility for new market development, Martin Heydon, was also present at the meeting.

Minister McConalogue told Ambassador He Xiangdong that Ireland is “optimistic” about China’s broad market prospects and looks forward to exporting more agri-food products there.

At present, beef exports to the Asian country from Ireland remain suspended due to a single case of atypical BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) that was discovered in a 14-year-old cow in Co. Tipperary in May. Also, exports of pigmeat from the Rosderra plant in Roscrea also remain suspended.

“Ireland is working for a rapid economic recovery amid the challenge of the Covid-19 epidemic, and Ireland would be more than willing to further enhance economic and trade cooperation with China in order to boost the economic development of both China and Ireland,” Minister McConalogue said.

The ambassador, for his part, said that Chinese people are “fond of Irish meat, dairy products and seafood”.

“China welcomes more Irish agri-food products’ entry into the Chinese market,” he commented.

China-Ireland agri-food trade enjoys steady growth, benefiting from healthy and steady development of China-Ireland bilateral relations.

“China stands ready to work with Ireland to further strengthen communication, to expand friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields and to overcome difficulties together,” he added.

EU Summit

In political news relating to the agriculture sector, Taoiseach Micheál Martin is being urged to stress the “very serious implications” the UK stance on the withdrawal agreement will have for the agri-food sector here, when he takes part in a summit of EU leaders today.

Speaking ahead of that meeting, Tim Cullinan, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), cited a report from the London School of Economics (LSE), which Cullinan said “predicts a disastrous outcome in the event of a no-deal scenario”.

“Our food exports would drop by nearly 30%. This would present a shock to the system that would have hugely damaging consequences,” he highlighted.