Minister Michael Creed T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, has today (Wednesday) confirmed that an agreement had been reached in principle to allow access for Irish sheepmeat to the Japanese market.
The announcement was made earlier this morning (Wednesday, June 12th) as Creed concluded the first leg of this week's second agri-food trade mission to Japan and the Republic of Korea.
Afterwards, Minister Creed commented “I am really delighted to announce that we have now reached agreement in principle on market access for Irish sheepmeat. Details will be finalised by an exchange of letters between my Department and the relevant Japanese officials."
"Meetings with both Ministers were very positive, reflecting the detailed technical cooperation and exchanges between our officials which led to today’s announcement. When this documentation is finalised, interested plants, who meet the relevant conditions, will be able to apply to my Department for approval to export.”
Traceability was a key part of the discussions. On the basis of the introduction of electronic identification of sheep, the Japanese authorities were satisfied that this enhanced traceability for Irish sheepmeat would be compatible with their market access criteria.
Today’s agreement builds on the removal last month of the under 30 months restriction for Irish beef exports to Japan, meaning that all Irish beef is now eligible for export to this very valuable market.
Total agri-food exports to Japan in 2018 amounted to €115 million, double the level of exports in 2016, according to CSO trade statistics (which include non-edible exports such as forestry as well as food and drinks).
Last year, pigmeat exports to Japan amounted to €41 million; while dairy products, mainly cheddar cheese, amounted to €40 million. Fish (€14 million) and beverages (€8 million) are other important export categories.
Beef exports to Japan amounted to €3.6 million last year. Last month’s announcement by Japanese authorities of the removal of the restriction on exports of beef from animals over 30 months, following detailed technical exchanges and an audit visit offers opportunities for further growth.