The Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Michael Creed today led a delegation of Irish agri-food exporters on the first day of a trade mission to North Africa with events in the Moroccan capital, Rabat.
Speaking from Rabat, Minister Creed said this is the first ever Ministerial led Irish agri-food trade mission to Morocco and my objective is to raise the profile of Ireland as a source for safe, secure and sustainably produced food.
“While there is existing and growing trade in Irish products here, we know that the potential is there for this to significantly grow. This trade mission is an example of my ongoing focus on the diversification of markets for our Irish agri-food exports, particularly in response to Brexit”.
Minister Creed commenced the visit with a high-level bilateral meeting with his Moroccan Counterpart, the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Aziz Akhannouch.
These talks focused on the scope for deepening the collaboration in agriculture and food between both Countries.
The Minister said trade between Ireland and Morocco continues to grow across many different sectors of the economy, especially agri-food.
“I was delighted to have the opportunity to reiterate our commitment to furthering this relationship today in my meeting with Minister Akhannouch.
“It is clear that the sustainable intensification of our respective agri-food sectors is a national priority for both countries.
“I also took the opportunity in these bilateral meetings to further our trade priorities, building on our growing exports here which to date in 2016 are almost double what they were for the whole year in 2014.”
The Minister also met with the Director General of ONSSA which is the Moroccan body responsible for food safety. The meeting was an opportunity to engage with ONSSA on areas of mutual interest given the imperative which both countries place on the production of food of the highest safety standards.
The Minister also took the opportunity to acknowledge the cooperation of ONSSA in concluding recent negotiations in expanding the Irish products allowed access to Morocco and discussed outstanding Irish applications which it is hoped to progress. The Minister also took the opportunity in the meeting to formally commence Ireland’s application for sheepmeat to the Moroccan market.
Later the Minister, accompanied by members of the official delegation, met with the Director for the Agency for Agricultural Development (ADA) in Morocco. This meeting focused on the plans for modernisation of Moroccan agriculture and the cooperation which Ireland might offer in this regard.
At the conclusion of the political meetings the focus turned to commercial events starting with a visit to one of Morocco’s largest importers of dairy products, Copralim.
This company is an existing importer of Irish dairy products from various Irish suppliers.
Irish dairy exports to Morocco, particularly butter, cheese and caseins were worth almost €13m last year and we expect this figure to grow by over 60% in 2016.
“Increasing our share of emerging markets such as Morocco will be key in helping to meet the ambitious targets for the dairy sector in the Food Wise 2025 Strategy,” Minster Creed said.