The announcement of a free trade agreement between the EU and Japan is a very welcome development and it is up to the Agri-food sector to grasp the opportunity that this free trade agreement presents according to Mr. John Comer, President of ICMSA. It is also positive to see a free trade agreement concluded that actually benefits the EU Agri-food sector as opposed to potential negative agreements such as Mercusor. The Japan FTA is a win-win for Agri-food and it is important that we maximise its potential to the fullest in terms of delivering stronger returns to the primary producers.
Japan is a significant importer of food with a value of almost US$60bn in imports in 2013 and it is the worlds’ fourth largest importer of food products and is the largest meat importing country in the world. Japan, Mr. Comer said, must import 60% of its food annually and given the improved access conditions under the FTA, it presents Ireland and the EU with a massive opportunity given the excellent standard of food that we produce with the opportunities in relation to beef, cheese, powders and butter particularly encouraging.
The political announcement of the deal is welcome and now it is essential that the finer details and technical requirements are finalised as soon as possible so that trade can commence under the FTA. It is also essential that the state agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, Food & Marine and An Bord Bia play their role in maximising the potential of this market as soon as possible.
In the context of Brexit, it is important that Ireland diversifies its markets options while recognising the continuing importance of the UK market for Irish food. The agreement with Japan is an important step in this regard and the EU Commission must be complimented for its work on this matter. The Agri-food has a new opportunity and it is important that we grasp it and deliver for farmers, concluded Mr. Comer.
Ends 06 July 2017.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office