Connaugton welcomes re-opening of Gulf markets

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News that longstanding bans on Irish beef and sheep meat in six Gulf states are to be lifted was welcomed today by Paul Connaughton T.D.

The East Galway T.D. said that the decision by the Food Safety Committee of the Gulf Cooperation Council to lift the bans on exports of Irish beef and sheep meat to the GCC region is just reward for the hard work that Irish farmers have done over many years to ensure that the meat they produce is produced to the highest international standards.

‘These bans had been in place for over a decade and largely arose from concerns about BSE and scrapie. Now Irish beef and sheep meat can be exported to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, the State of Kuwait and the Kingdom of Bahrain. These are all lucrative markets for Ireland and will provide a much-needed boost to the exports of Irish beef and sheep meat.

‘Considering the very difficult year that farmers have just endured, this is a very timely boost, and is particularly welcome for suckler farmers and the beef industry as a whole, which has been under some pressure for the last number of months.

‘Work has been on-going behind the scenes on this for months, as the Government sought to allay any concerns and demonstrate the high standards required of Irish producers. A visit by an inspection delegation of veterinary officers from the Gulf Cooperation Council in February of this year was key to getting this ban lifted and I wish to commend Minister Coveney and all his officials on their work to secure this breakthrough.

‘Prior to this announcement, some individual countries had lifted individual bans, for example the United Arab Emirates had lifted the ban on Irish beef, sheep meat and poultry, but his formal lifting of the ban across the region means that Irish beef and sheep meat can now be exported to this region as a whole.

‘Today’s development offers tremendous opportunities for Irish beef and sheep farmers. The region in question has a population of over 43 million people and imports very significant volumes of food.  The challenge for Irish farmers now is to maximise the potential of these lucrative markets and re-introduce many of the citizens of this region to the wonderful flavour of Irish beef and lamb.’