The economic partnership agreement between the EU and Japan, which was announced in Brussels yesterday, was welcomed by Agriculture, Food and Marine Minister Michael Creed and the Irish meat and farm lobby.
European Council president Donald Tusk, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, announced the agreement, which provides for very significant access to the Japanese market for EU agri-food products.
Minister Creed said it is a hugely important development for the EU agri-food sector, and will present very real opportunities for Irish agri-food exporters.
“The news is particularly good for the Irish beef sector, as the agreement contains very significant concessions in relation to Japanese market access for EU beef,” he said.
Minister Creed said the concessions achieved in relation to beef are particularly significant, and represent a huge opportunity “which I am determined will be utilised to the maximum possible extent by the Irish beef sector.”
He said the outcome is also extremely positive in relation to pigmeat, where Japan will significantly lower the tariffs applied through its import scheme over the period of the agreement.
It is also extremely positive for cheese and dairy products, where the agreement provides for the full liberalisation of tariffs on hard cheeses, including cheddar, over 15 years.
“This is a welcome development as we increase our focus on market diversification and the need to reduce our dependence on the UK market,” he said.
EU commissioner Phil Hogan said the agreement is the most significant deal ever concluded by the EU in agri-food trade.
It will provide farmers and agri-food businesses with access to a very large, mature and sophisticated market, he said.
Meat Industry Ireland (MII), representing processors, said the deal offers positive business development opportunities for Irish and EU agri-food exports including meat.
Cormac Healy, MII director, said it is important in the Brexit context to secure new market access opportunities globally and improve existing market access terms through trade agreements.
Irish Farmers Association president Joe Healy said the relaxation of trade restrictions would benefit the Irish beef trade in particular.
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