Written answers

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Trade Missions

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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238. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the current status of Irish trade with Iran; the extent of Irish Government and its agencies' efforts to explore and promote Irish goods and services in contacts with the Iranian authorities; his plans to establish a trade mission to Iran; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47251/14]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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Ireland has a positive trade balance with Iran, although exports have decreased from €11.13m in 2012 to €7.2m in 2013, reflecting a drop in dairy exports from €3.4m in 2012 to €2.1m in 2013, while infant formula reduced from €4.3m in 2011 to €110,000 in 2012 with no exports taking place in 2013. Given its population I am confident Iran will in the future be a growing market for exports of dairy products.

My Department has been actively engaged with the Iranian authorities with a view to re-opening access to that market for beef and sheepmeat products. We hosted an inspection visit from an Iranian delegation between 29 April and 6 May 2012 when they received an overview of our control and inspection policies as well as visiting plants interested in exporting to Iran.

The visit was successful and resulted in the Iranians lifting their ban on Irish beef on 26 July 2012. Subsequently initial agreement was reached on a Veterinary Health Cert for beef. This veterinary health cert, however, is restricted to boneless beef from animals aged under 30 months and requires that slaughter of animals whose meat is destined for Iran be overseen by their veterinary authorities. My Department are currently working with industry to analyse the implications of this requirement.

A draft veterinary health certificate for sheepmeat was sent to the Iranian authorities in October 2014. We are currently awaiting a response.

Since 2011, I or officials from my Department have met on 5 separate occasions with Iranian officials, in most cases headed up by the Iranian Ambassador to Ireland. These meetings were helpful in facilitating the progress of access for Irish Beef to the Iranian market and also discussed the possibility of cooperation on food safety between both countries.

I myself have met Ambassador Javad Kachoueian twice in 2014, once on 16 September as a courtesy call as the then new Ambassador but again on 23 September when the Ambassador was accompanied by a wider group of Iranian delegates attached to the Iran-Ireland Parliamentary group.

These meetings were extremely useful in allowing us to begin exploring the potential in Agri-trade between both countries. Given Iran’s growing population, I highlighted the potential for further trade between Ireland and Iran in the Agri-food sector, in particular, the dairy, processed food and meat sectors.

My plans for trade missions for next year are not yet finalised.


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