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Egypt reopens its beef market to Irish farmers ending 17-year ban

Five firms have got the green light to export to the major consumer market.

Image: Neil Hamilton/Flickr

EGYPT HAS REOPENED its beef market to Irish farmers after a 17-year ban on the Republic’s beef exports.

Five Irish plants will start exporting to Egypt once the “necessary technical arrangements are in place”, according to a statement form the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The announcement – which also includes approval for beef offal and certain types of products made from sheep meat – comes after the reopening of Irish live cattle exports to Egypt in February 2016.

Prior to a ban on EU beef in the late 1990s, introduced after an outbreak of ‘mad cow disease’, Egypt was one of the largest markets for Irish beef products.

At the time, Ireland exported IR£200 million worth of beef there every year, according to an archived RTÉ report.

Largest consumer market

Today, Egypt is the largest consumer market in the Middle East and North Africa, with a population of around 95 million.

It is already the third biggest destination for Irish agri-food exports in Africa, with exports of €45 million in 2015. The bulk of this figure – €30.5 million – came from dairy products, while the remaining €11 million came from seafood.

10/8/2009 Fair Trade Bills Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed Source: Photocall Ireland

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed claimed the announcement indicates “another example of achieving the market access goals in the Food Wise 2025 strategy”, the government’s strategy to increase Ireland’s agri-food exports to €19 billion.

The minister said with the upcoming UK exit from the EU, his department is prioritising the opening of new markets to Irish agri-food exporters.

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He noted that last year saw the opening of the Canadian, New Zealand and Israeli beef markets.

“Significant steps were also taken in terms of beef market access to China, South Korean and Vietnam,” he added.

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) meanwhile have welcomed the lifting of the Egyptian ban, with president Joe Healy describing the news as a “positive development for the beef sector” and saying the reopening of the market has resulted “as part of the IFA campaign on market access over the last two years”.

Written by Conor McMahon and posted on

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