Exporters battle to reboot North African market

Stock image. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker
Stock image. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Poor prices and the absence of veterinary clearance have limited the scope of live exports to North Africa and the Middle East over the last two years, according to Joe Burke of Bord Bia.

Although Ireland has clearance to export into both Libya and Egypt, the prices available in both markets at the moment mean the trade isn't viable.

Three boats did go to Libya in the first half of this year, but Mr Burke said competition from South America sources meant that returns from the market were far tighter now.

Similarly, the collapse of the Turkish lira against both the euro and the US dollar meant the live trade to that market had effectively been put on ice.

"Algeria is one that we have had our eye on for the last couple of years," Mr Burke said.

"Unfortunately we have been waiting for the veterinary authorities in Algeria to give us the final seal of approval in order to allow us start supplying the market.

"Algeria import about 150,000 cattle every year and it also looks a bit more promising in terms of prices and demand."

Mr Burke said a veterinary mission from Algeria to Ireland had been delayed, and little progress could be made until this visit takes place.

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"Some markets are more discerning in terms of quality; Algeria would be one of those, and so would Tunisia and Morocco," Mr Burke said.

"They take good-quality animals, particularly those coming from our suckler herd. So we would be able to add value and see good animals go out at good prices.".

Tunisia took a few hundred cattle last year, U-grade type stock, Mr Burke said.

"We sent some trucks of cattle to Tunisia last year," he said.

"It was only a few hundred cattle rather than up in the thousands, but hopefully there will be opportunities there to grow that further."

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