Agriculture minister welcomes reopening of North African markets

THE reopening of the Moroccan market to Irish beef and live cattle and the Tunisian market to Irish sheep meat were announced yesterday by Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Brendan Smith.

He said the Moroccan market had been closed to Ireland for almost a decade-and-a-half, and its reopening follows a successful visit here by a delegation of senior veterinarians from that country last March.

A certificate, which allows the export of live cattle from Ireland to Morocco, was agreed by both countries last month and a veterinary health certificate for the export of Irish beef to Morocco was ratified this week.

Irish beef from animals aged under 48 months will now be allowed into Morocco without BSE testing and beef from animals over 48 months, which have tested negative for BSE, will also be approved. This is the same testing regime that applies to beef exports destined for the European Union.

Mr Smith also announced that, following the reopening of the Tunisian market to Irish beef in April, a veterinary health certificate has been agreed which will permit the export of sheep meat from Ireland to Tunisia.

He said the resumption of trade with these two North African countries was the result of intensive market access work by his Department, Bord Bia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and would, hopefully, provide new outlets for Irish cattle, beef and sheep meat.

It was a significant and tangible recognition by these two countries of the high standards of food safety which apply in Ireland, he said.

Mr Smith said this development builds on the reopening of several other markets in the past year including the Chinese and Russian markets for pigmeat, the United Arab Emirates market for beef and the South Korean market for breeding pigs.

“We cannot underestimate the importance of the food sector to the Irish economy and I remain committed to ensuring that Irish exporters will have access to as many global markets as possible.

“My department and I, together with Bord Bia and the Department of Foreign Affairs, will continue to actively work together in order to make this goal a reality,” he said.


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