Opportunity for farmers as beef ban in Gulf lifted
FARMERS are hoping to tap into lucrative markets in the Gulf region after six Middle Eastern countries lifted bans on Irish beef and lamb imports.
The ban has been in place for more than a decade following the outbreak of BSE and a disease known as scrapie, which affects sheep.
However, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney welcomed a joint decision by six Gulf states – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Qara, Kuwait and Bahrain – to lift the ban on Irish imports.
He said the decision by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), to which all six states belong, was the result of on-going efforts by his department, as well as Irish embassies in the region and Bord Bia over the last few years.
Saudi Arabia has previously lifted a ban on the importation of Irish beef, and the UAE had lifted its ban on Irish beef, lamb, and poultry.
But Mr Coveney said the formal lifting of the GCC-wide ban means that Ireland is now free to complete the formalities needed to export Irish produce within the GCC area as a whole.
He said the region, which has a population of 43.5 million people is a significant net importer of food products and offers Irish exporters tremendous opportunities.
The lifting of the ban was "a clear signal from the GCC of their confidence in the rigorous controls and excellent standards of food safety in Ireland".