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Coveney welcomes opening of UAE market to Irish sheepmeat

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today welcomed the opening of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) market to exports of sheepmeat from Ireland.  With a population exceeding 8 million, the oil rich UAE is a significant net importer of food products, and sheepmeat is a key dietary staple.

Minister Coveney explained that agreement on Irish sheepmeat exports was reached following consultations between his Department, the Irish Embassy in the UAE and the UAE authorities. The agreement was a reflection of the excellent rapport between the two countries in relation to agricultural issues and had been subject to discussion between the Minister and the UAE Minister of Economy HE Sultan Saeed Al Mansouri when he visited the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Dublin last October.  This latest decision by the UAE follows agreements reached last summer on the lifting of the age restriction for Irish beef destined for the UAE and on a veterinary health certificate allowing for the export of poultry meat and poultry meat products to the UAE.

Commenting on the agreement, the Minister said

while the bulk of Ireland’s sheepmeat is exported to the EU, there is increasing interest amongst the industry in exporting Irish sheepmeat to non-EU countries.  The UAE has been identified by the industry as a priority market.  I am delighted that we have succeeded in opening this market to Irish lamb and in providing Irish exporters with another potentially valuable market option.” 

Concluding, the Minister underlined his commitment to gaining increased market access opportunities globally for the export of Irish meat and meat products and said that he and his Department would continue in their efforts, aided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Bord Bia:

“I am committed to ensuring that Irish operators have access to as many markets as possible worldwide. While ultimately the pattern of trade is a function of commercial choice and based on market dynamics, I have, as a matter of principal, and in close consultation with industry, been determined to provide Irish exporters with alternative markets when commercial opportunities arise.  This approach frequently requires intensive consultation at technical and diplomatic level, and ultimately the decision to permit access to markets rests with the veterinary authorities in the receiving country.  However, I am convinced that this work is critically important, and that apart from the commercial opportunities arising, this kind of engagement at political, technical and diplomatic level increases the profile of Ireland in target markets and enhances the reputation of Ireland as a source of  high quality  food  worldwide.”

Date Released: 04 January 2013