Live exports: ‘Loosening of specifications might facilitate more trade to Turkey’

Loosening certain specifications with regards to live exports could facilitate more trade to Turkey, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

Minister Creed made the comment as he spoke to AgriLand at last night’s Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) AGM in Co. Laois. He was speaking ahead of a trade mission to Turkey next week, where a particular focus will be placed on the topic of live exports.

On the trade mission, the minister said: “The purpose is to try and promote further trade in live exports; I think that is a critical aspect of competition in the marketplace.

“You heard the frustration here from beef farmers about returns from the market. I think last year it was worth €175 million – live exports – so, if we can sell more, we have more competition at the ringside for cattle; that has to be a positive for the farmer.”

Minister Creed explained that he will be meeting with his Turkish counterpart as well as industry buyers during the trip. A number of live exporters from Ireland will also make the journey, in order to take part in “comprehensive talks”.

Commenting on the importance of the Turkish market for live exports going forward, he said: “Well, I mean, we’re in there; we’d like to explore the opportunities – some of the specifications around age and weight and all that. Some loosening of specifications might facilitate more trade there.”

‘The agri-food industry lives or dies by trade agreements’

Meanwhile, the benefits of trade agreements for Ireland’s agri-food industry were defended in the Seanad this week by Minister Creed.

“The agri-food industry lives or dies by trade agreements.

“Our membership of the EU has opened the door for our agricultural industry, in all of its manifestations – whether you’re a hill sheep farmer in Co. Donegal, or a dairy farmer on the Finn Valley, or a suckler cow farmer in the west of Ireland.

Their product is in 180 different countries around the world. Why? Because, we have trade agreements.

“CETA is an important trade agreement. I will go to Canada in the coming weeks on a trade mission; because, the Irish agri-food industry has determined that that’s a market it sees opportunities in.”

Minister Creed admitted that Mercosur is a “real challenge” for Ireland, particularly for the beef sector; but, he argued that “trade is a two-way street“.

He stated that Ireland’s agri-food economy is among the most globalised in the world and the minister acknowledged the work put in by the industry to seek out new market opportunities.

Commenting on Mercosur, Minister Creed said: “There are member states in the EU who are gung-ho for Mercosur; they see opportunities, we see threats.

But, in all trade agreements, there are threats and opportunities.

“We are globalised; we are in 180 different countries; we’re there because – by virtue of our membership of the EU – we are able to benefit from CETA, benefit from the EU-Japan trade agreement, benefit from a whole host of other agreements that are important for our agri-food industry.”

Negotiations on the Mercosur trade deal are set to resume next week.