A DECADE-LONG ban on the export of Irish beef and sheep meat has been lifted in a number of Middle Eastern countries.
The bans, which have been in place because of legacy concerns over BSE and the sheep equivalent scrapie, have been overturned in the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said that the decision is a result of the efforts of his department, Bord Bia and various embassies which saw a successful inspection visit to Ireland by a veterinary delegation from the GCC in February of this year.
The minister added that the oil-rich region has a combined population of almost 43.5 million people and offers Irish beef and lamb exporters tremendous opportunities as a result of being a significant net importer of food products.
The agri-food industry is seen as one of the most important export sectors in the economy with exported produce of over €9 billion in 2012 and the value of Irish agri-food exports outside Europe a particular target for improvement.