Economy, Domestic Economy
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Irish Farmers Seeking Trade Facilities in Iran

Patrick Kent, president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers AssociationPatrick Kent, president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association
more than 800,000 tons of red meat are produced in Iran every year, while domestic demand stands at around 900,000 tons per annum

Irish farmers have called on their government to reopen the Irish Embassy in Iran, which was closed in 2011.

Patrick Kent, president of Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association, said there would be “huge opportunities for exports of beef and sheep meat to Iran” if full diplomatic relations were to resume between the two countries, Dublin-based Internet publication TheJournal.ie reported.

Last week, the association met with Iranian ambassador to Ireland, Javad Kachoueian, to discuss potential cattle and sheep meat trade between the two countries.

Kent said, “I would urge the Irish government to look at diplomatic missions to Iran and I would also call on the banking sector to provide facilities for financial transactions between Irish and Iranian interests.”

The Irish Imbassy in Tehran was closed in 2011 as part of cost reduction measures brought on by the financial crisis. A number of new consulates have been opened since then, including embassies in Nairobi, Jakarta and Bangkok, while the Irish Embassy in the Vatican has also been reopened.

> Ongoing Review: No Immediate Plans

In response to the call from farmers, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said there were no immediate plans to reopen the embassy, but there is an "ongoing review" of Ireland’s embassies and consulates.

"The configuration and scale of the state’s diplomatic and consular network is kept under ongoing review by the government. A range of factors are taken into account in considering our diplomatic representation overseas, including our national political, economic and trade priorities, as well as the availability of resources," the department said.

"The government is, of course, conscious of the political, economic, trade factors and availability of resources that might warrant the opening of a resident diplomatic mission in Iran—as in a number of other countries," the department said in a statement.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, ICSA General Secretary Eddie Punch said in 2017 there will be 200,000 extra cattle for slaughter compared to 2015 and there will be a need to expand into other markets, as there is no real added demand for Irish beef in Europe.

“Iran is in a deficit in terms of red meat; they consume one million tons of red meat a year. We can’t afford not to do this,” said Punch.

According to Alireza Vali, the CEO of Livestock Affairs Support Company, affiliated with the Ministry of Agriculture, more than 800,000 tons of red meat are produced in Iran every year, while domestic demand stands at around 900,000 tons per annum.

> Self-Sufficiency Target in 5 Years

Deputy Minister of Agriculture Hassan Rokni said Iran is targeting self-sufficient in red meat in five years and there will be no more imports by 2021.

Punch also cited the recent lifting of sanctions on Iran by the US government as the reason to start doing business with Iran.

The ICSA said there are two main obstacles to trading beef and sheep meat with Iran: The lack of diplomatic outreach from the Irish government to the Iranian government and the lack of banking facilities between the two states.

“No Irish bank will facilitate transactions with Iranian banks,” said Punch, which makes any dealing between the two countries very difficult, if not impossible.

Bord Bia, which is Ireland’s trade development body promoting the sale of Irish food and horticulture products abroad, embarked on a trade mission with 17 Irish food producers to explore the potential of the Iran market at the end of April this year. The visit was aimed at increasing Ireland’s share in the Iranian food market following the removal of international sanctions in January.

However, Irish Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said despite Ireland having access to the Iranian beef market since 2013, no beef exports have taken place due to current unfavorable trading conditions.

Creed noted that the Iranian market is open for the import of beef and sheep meat from Ireland, as veterinary health certificates for both commodities have been accepted.

“The agreement on the beef certificate dates back to 2013 while the sheep meat certificate was agreed earlier in 2016, following on from the trade mission to Iran, which was led by my department and Bord Bia,” he was quoted as saying by Irish farming news portal AgriLand last month.

 

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