Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
In 2019, the overall value of Irish food and drink exports was €14.5 billion, which is an increase on the €13.7 billion exported in 2018. The UK remains our largest market, with exports of almost €5.5 billion in 2019. Those exports include:
- Over €1bn worth of dairy products, or over 375,000 tonnes, more than €300m of which was cheddar cheese;
- More than €1bn of beef, or more than 230,000 tonnes, equivalent to 43% of our overall beef exports;
- Almost €1.2bn of Prepared Consumer Foods.
Therefore, my Department’s primary interest is to secure the best possible outcome from the EU-UK negotiations for the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors, given the disproportionate exposure of these sectors to the UK market.
Despite the uncertainties that surround Brexit, the Department is very clear on its ‘asks’ in these negotiations, which are:
- continued free access to the UK market, without tariffs and with minimal additional customs and administrative procedures;
- minimisation of the risk from UK trade agreements with third countries; and
- maintenance of existing reciprocal access to fishing waters and resources.
In the latter respect, we will continue to insist that the negotiations on fisheries are fully integrated with the overall negotiations, and not dealt with in isolation.
In the longer term, the future relationship negotiations will be particularly important to help protect existing market share and to avoid any possible displacement of Irish product. The timeline for negotiations is challenging, and it is likely that they will be demanding and difficult, as Brexit negotiations have been to date.
The Department is working within a whole-of-Government effort, led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to ensure the best possible outcome for the agri-food and fisheries sectors. It is also in ongoing consultation with stakeholders to consolidate and improve our preparations.