Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, has welcomed a milestone decision by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Food Safety Committee to formally lift longstanding bans on exports of Irish beef and sheep meat from Ireland to the GCC region.
These bans had been in place for well over a decade because of legacy concerns related to scrapie and BSE. The GCC countries comprise the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, the State of Kuwait and the Kingdom of Bahrain.
The Minister said that this decision by the GCC Food Safety Committee was the result of ongoing efforts by his Department, Irish Embassies in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and Bord Bia over a number of years. These efforts resulted in a successful inspection visit to Ireland by a veterinary delegation from the GCC in February of this year when they saw at first hand the safety and quality of Irish beef and sheepmeat. He added that while Saudi Arabia had previously lifted a ban on the importation of Irish beef and the UAE had lifted the ban on Irish beef, sheep meat and poultry, the formal lifting of the GCC-wide ban means that Ireland is free to complete the formalities necessary to export Irish beef and lamb within the GCC as a whole.
Minister Coveney said that this was “a clear signal from the GCC of their confidence in the rigorous controls and excellent standards of food safety in Ireland.” He pointed to the fact that this oil rich region has a combined population of almost 43.5 million people and is a significant net importer of food products and offers Irish beef and lamb exporters tremendous opportunities.
The Minister said that his Department would now work to agree veterinary health certificates with all GCC countries for beef and lamb so that exports of these products to these countries could commence.
Highlighting the significance of this region for Irish food exports as a whole, the Minister also announced that he had decided to lead a trade mission to the Gulf region from 27 October to 1 November this year, to draw attention to Ireland and what it can offer to the very discerning customers in this region and to explore future opportunities. Minister Coveney said that he greatly looked forward to this mission and to publicizing the unique qualities of Irish food production and products. He reiterated his commitment to ensuring that Irish meat exporters would have access to as many global markets as possible and that his Department, Bord Bia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, would continue to work closely in achieving this goal.