The Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny has just begun a five-day visit to Japan during which it is expected that he would be able to broker a deal which opens the Japanese market to Irish beef exports again. Irish beef exports to Japan were worth about €10 million (around 1.4 billion yen) when a ban was imposed after the BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) epidemic in 2000. Sources close to Kenny’s team said that they expect the trade with Japan to recover quickly.
Kenny is accompanied on his visit by Irish Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, and his visit will include meetings with Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and the Crown Prince Naruhito. The Irishi leader’s trip is the first to Japan by a Taoiseach since 2009 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 as he arrived in Tokyo yesterday, the Taoiseach described a potential beef deal 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,” Kenny added. “So we hope to be able to conclude that with Prime Minister Abe.”
Kenny’s official entourage includes a large number of company representatives from Ireland’s agri-food industry, including the Irish Dairy Bord, Glanbia, Kerry Group, Dairygold and Kepak. Kenny will also speak at a symposium on green energy, which is organized with the Japan External Trade Organization – speaking on 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). 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.
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