Kenny hopeful of China deal for Irish beef

With a population of 1.3 billion, China is potentially one of the world’s largest markets for Irish farm products

Japan’s decision to end the 13-year-old beef ban was announced following Mr Kenny’s meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “Clearly the platform exists in Ireland to conclude a deal with China in due course also,” Mr Kenny said after the meeting. Photograph: Ruth Hauge.

Japan’s decision to end the 13-year-old beef ban was announced following Mr Kenny’s meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “Clearly the platform exists in Ireland to conclude a deal with China in due course also,” Mr Kenny said after the meeting. Photograph: Ruth Hauge.

Tue, Dec 3, 2013, 01:00


The reopening of Japan to Irish beef has improved the chances of a similar move in China, Taoiseach Enda Kelly said yesterday.

Japan’s decision to end the 13-year-old beef ban was announced following Mr Kenny’s meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “Clearly the platform exists in Ireland to conclude a deal with China in due course also,” Mr Kenny said after the meeting.

With a population of 1.3 billion, China is potentially one of the world’s largest markets for Irish farm products.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Simon Coveney said the Government is sending experts to Beijing next week to push for ending the ban, imposed after the BSE outbreak in 2000. “We need to be patient but certainly getting the Japanese market opened will help that effort.”

The Taoiseach and Mr Coveney are on a five-day trip to Japan accompanied by representatives from 29 Irish companies, trying to build economic ties and drum up business.


Diplomatic standoff
The Irish delegation arrived in Tokyo during a tense diplomatic standoff between China and Japan over disputed islands in the South China Sea. Mr Kenny said he told Japan’s prime minister the situation called for “cool heads and diplomacy”: “I just made the point that having had a fraught relationship with England for so many years that Ireland learned by experience that the only way to sort out situations like this is through negotiation and discussion and dialogue.”

Bord Bia estimates the short- to medium-term opportunity for Irish beef in Japan is worth €12-€15 million, with potential for expansion.

Earlier yesterday, Mr Kenny told a business audience at the Japan-Ireland Chamber of Commerce that Ireland had “restored its international reputation” ahead of its exit from the international bailout.

Mr Kenny said inward investment was at “record levels” and Ireland was top for labour flexibility and second for “lack of protectionism”.

“We have the most open economy in the western world,” he said. “We have a pro-business environment, with a world-class R&D environment, and a competitive and transparent tax rate . . . Ireland is proud to be recognised as one of the best small countries in the world in which to do business.”


Bailout exit
In speeches, he has stressed Ireland’s looming exit from the bailout as evidence the economy is back on track and looking for investors.

The Irish contingent is looking for more access to Japan’s $5-trillion market. Mr Abe has pledged to boost inward investment and push through a EU-Japan free trade pact.

Irish business people in Japan welcomed the Taoiseach’s trip.

“The timing is perfect,” said Matthew Connolly, president of the Irish Japan Chamber of Commerce. He said Mr Abe’s economic policies have pushed down the price of the yen, making it 35 per cent cheaper to operate in Japan. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to do business here.”