28. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the measures being taken to seek new markets for Irish agriculture in the context of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18265/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The pursuit and development of new markets for Irish agri-food exports is of course an ongoing and central component of the strategic development of the agri-food sector, as evidenced by its placement right at the centre of Food Wise 2025, the industry’s strategy for development over the coming decade. Indeed, this is all the more relevant after the UK’s decision to leave the EU, which presents significant new challenges for the agri-food sector in particular.

Food Wise 2025 outlines the huge potential for growth in agri-food exports to new and emerging markets, including in Asia, Africa and the Gulf region.

In keeping with the priorities outlined in Food Wise 2025 I led a very successful Trade Mission in February 2017 to the Gulf Region. This covered the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This was followed by an extensive Trade Mission to the US and Mexico in June. Both markets offer many elements that are very attractive to Irish exporters. The US is the largest food and beverage market in the world and has a population of 324 million people. Around 35 million Americans also claim Irish ancestry. Mexico has a population of 127 million, making it the eleventh-largest country in the world in population terms and the fifteenth-largest economy in the world, with projections that it will move into the top five by 2050.

During a trade mission to Japan and South Korea in November 2017 I was accompanied by 40 representatives of the Irish food sector, as well as by experts from my Department, the CEO of Bord Bia and senior representatives from Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc.

This was a very opportune time to bring a delegation of Ireland’s food leaders to this part of the world, given that the EU has concluded a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea as well as concluding an Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan in December 2017. Japan and South Korea are markets of high potential for beef, pigmeat and sheepmeat exports, and so it is important that we raise the profile of Irish agri-food enterprises that already have access to these markets, and make progress in negotiating access for others.

Following on from the successful trade mission to the USA and Canada in February of this year I will, as part of the marketing effort, lead further trade missions in 2018 to promote Irish food and drinks in key markets. I will also lead a trade mission to China and Hong Kong next month to develop our relationship further given that the Chinese beef market is now open to exports from Ireland.

These and the other missions that my Department are planning for 2018 will serve to enhance and improve our existing levels of market access in these destinations. They will also promote Ireland’s reputation as a producer of high quality, safe and sustainably produced meat and dairy products.

The destinations are also in keeping with the recent market prioritisation exercise that was completed by Bord Bia at my request. This exercise identified opportunities in new and more mature markets, and will provide valuable market intelligence both for industry operators and policy makers. I have also provided an additional €14 million to Bord Bia since Q 3 2016 , inter alia to strengthen its presence in overseas markets.

My Department will continue to seek out and identify new markets and I am ready to respond as appropriate to other opportunities that may arise.