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Minister Coughlan welcomes the re-opening of the South African Market for Irish Beef

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, today welcomed the decision by the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, Lulama Xingwana, to lift the ban on the importation of Irish beef, which has been in place since 2001. The market is being re-opened under the conditions recommended by South African experts who visited Ireland last April.

The Minister recalled the strong relationship between Ireland and South Africa. She said this positive news was the result of intensive efforts at political, diplomatic and technical level. Her Department and the Irish Embassy in Pretoria have been working very closely on this issue for a number of years. During November 2006 the Minister and her experts had a number of high-level meetings with South African Cabinet members and their officials.

Minister Coughlan said: "This is a very welcome decision as South Africa has been a traditional market for Irish beef. The decision by the competent authorities in the Republic of South Africa to re-open their market to Irish beef was taken following a detailed examination of the rigorous controls applied and reflects the high standards of food safety controls in place in Ireland."

The Minister said that her veterinary experts and their counterparts in South Africa had worked intensively on the technical documentation to facilitate trade and the necessary Veterinary Certificate had also been agreed.

The Minister noted that senior veterinary officials from both sides have discussed detailed proposals for exchanges of skills and personnel to share best practice and experience in facing common challenges in the food industry. Both Governments see the agri-food sector as an important area with significant potential for trade growth and the creation of quality employment. Senior experts will meet shortly to discuss an action plan on skills development.

2 November 2007


The South African market was closed to Irish beef following the disclosure of BSE in Europe in 2001. Exports in the five years prior to the ban averaged 18,000 tonnes and were valued at €57m.

Date Released: 02 November 2007