The ban on the export of Irish beef and sheep meat to the Gulf region which was put in place over 10 years ago, has been lifted by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
The ban, put in place at that time because of concerns relating to BSE and scrapie disease, was implemented by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates(UAE), Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.
The lifting of this ban has been described by Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food, Simon Coveney, as a “milestone decision”.
The Minister said that this decision by the GCC Food Safety Committee was the result of ongoing efforts by his Department, Irish Embassies in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and Bord Bia over a number of years. These efforts resulted in a successful inspection visit to Ireland by a veterinary delegation from the GCC in February of this year when they saw at first hand the safety and quality of Irish beef and lamb. He added that while Saudi Arabia had previously lifted a ban on the importation of Irish beef and the UAE had lifted the ban on Irish beef, sheep meat and poultry, the formal lifting of the GCC-wide ban means that Ireland is free to export Irish beef and lamb within all the Gulf countries.
Minister Coveney said his department would now work to agree veterinary health certificates with all GCC countries for beef and lamb so that the exporting of these products to these countries could begin as soon as possible.
Welcoming this important development, the Secretary General of The Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce, Ahmad Younis, said, ‘Our Chamber provides a full certification and legalisation service to meat exporters to the GCC countries and we work closely with the embassies of these countries to ensure a fast and responsive service. We look forward to seeing an increase in the number and value of shipments to the region in the months ahead arising from this welcome news.’
The region has a combined population of almost 43.5 million people and is a significant importer of food products.