Beef deal expected during Taoiseach's Japan trip
THE Taoiseach Enda Kenny has begin a five-day visit to Japan during which it is expected that a deal will be reached to re-open Japan to the Irish beef export market.
Mr. Kenny is accompanied on his visit by Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, and his schedule will include meetings with prime minster Shinzo Abe and also the Crown Prince Naruhito.
The trip, the first to Japan by a Taoiseach since 2009, runs until December 5, and it is understood that an announcement on a multi-million beef deal will be made following his meeting with the prime minister tomorrow evening. Japanese beef imports have increased by 14 per cent from 2008 to 2013.
Speaking on his arrival in Tokyo yesterday, the Taoiseach described a potential beef trade with Japan as " more high-value than high-volume," he said. "It's a long way from Ireland to here, but there are only four countries that have access to the Japanese market for beef and Ireland would be the fifth and would be very important as an outlet. So we hope to be able to conclude that with Prime Minister Abbe."
A large number of company representatives from the agri-food industry will travel to Japan in conjunction with the official visit, including the Irish Dairy Bord, Glanbia, Kerry Group, Dairygold and Kepak.
The Taoiseach will speak at a symposium on green energy, co-organised with the Japan External Trade Organisation, which will highlight the latest technologies being developed by Irish companies, and give a keynote address on Ireland-Japan relations at the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA).
Mr Kenny will spend two days in Tokyo and then travel to Nagoya and Osaka to meet Irish and Japanese business leaders to promote trade and investment.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will be on their first visit to Japan at the same time as the Taoiseach, and will meet him on Tuesday at an embassy reception hosted by Irish Ambassador John Neary.
The Taoiseach who had been invited to Japan by prime minister Abe during his visit to Dublin last June, said he was "very happy and privileged" to be in the country.