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17
ISSUE 6 2018
INTERVIEW
@IrishFoodMag www.irishfoodmagazine.com
The value of agri-food exports has grown annually
over each of the past eight years. That growth comes
against a backdrop of a global recession and significant
currency fluctuations in our biggest market ­ the
UK ­ in the wake of Brexit. The Minister says his
Department is supporting the industry to continue this
growth trajectory by opening routes to market and
constant engagement. "It is a really good story and
the challenge is to keep that going and look for new
markets."
In the past year, the Minister says the biggest success
has undoubtedly been securing access to the Chinese
market for beef. "I think, over a period of time, that
will significantly increase our exports to that market.
Whether it becomes as big as dairy ­ with China our
second most important market after the UK ­ remains
to be seen. But there is huge potential. I am reluctant
to put a figure on our target for exports there...in a
way, that's up to industry. The industry needs options
in terms of markets to sell into and what is under way
now is building relationships."
Fundametal work
The Minister describes the market access unit in his
Department as an unsung hero of Ireland's export
success. "They do a lot of the heavy lifting in terms
of liaising with other countries, their regulations,
translating documents, getting feedback from the
industry on what we can work through. That's time-
consuming, challenging work but fundamental to the
access that we enjoy, and they really are doing a great
job." He adds that there is a seamless network of
international engagement between the Department,
its agricultural attachés, Bord Bia (the Irish Food
Board) and other State agencies that support ongoing
efforts to secure market access and build on existing
relationships in Ireland's 180 export markets.
Maintaining ties
At a key stage in negotiations on the Brexit deal,
the Minister says he doesn't anticipate a situation
where the market collapses for Irish exports when
the UK leaves Europe. "I hope we get a withdrawal
Ireland's agri-food story is a hugely positive one
for the country, according to the Minister. The
recently released Annual Review and Outlook for
Agriculture, Food and the Marine 2018 shows
that agriculture remains Ireland's most important
indigenous industry. In 2017, annual turnover
was 26 billion, contributing 7.8 per cent of
gross national income and generating over 11
per cent of total exports, valued at 13.6 billion.
Over 174,000 people are employed in the sector,
accounting for 7.9 per cent of total employment.
Importantly, the Minister notes, these jobs are
countrywide and make a significant contribution
to rural and coastal areas.
Playing
str
engths
Speaking to
, Minister
for Agriculture, Food and
the Marine Michael Creed
says Ireland's sustainability
credentials are central to
its continued international
success and are the driving
force behind its future growth
to
our