Irish food industry set sights on Iran

Following February criticism that the government were slow to capitalise on lifting of trade sanctions...

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File photo. Image: Ronald Zak / AP/Press Association Images

Bord Bia, the Department of Agriculture and 17 Irish food firms embark on a three-day trade mission to Iran this weekend.

This will be the country's first trade mission to the Gulf nation since international trade sanctions were lifted in early 2016.

Whilst there had not been sanctions on food, drops in consumer sentiment and problems around financial transactions made Iran a trading environment.

Irish food exporters had a €4 million share in the Iranian market last year.

Ireland will now be looking to increase their involvement in an economy that is set to expand 2% annually.

Irish Exporters Association CEO Simon McKeever criticised the government in February for its slow response to the lifting of sanctions.

He said:

"What are we doing about Iran? We’re the only EU country that doesn’t have a [trade] mission [to Iran].

"We see opportunities for Irish companies out there in the food and drink sector and dairy sector, engineering, ICT.

"We see it in automotive and in the aircraft leasing sector.

"There are huge opportunities out there; 80m people in the country in the centre of an economic region of about 300m. So we do think the Irish embassy in Iran should be reopened".

Department of Agriculture officials will also visit Ankara to discuss developing trade with Turkey, while visits to Algeria and Morocco are scheduled for next week.

Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney commented: "Trade missions are an important element of our agri-food strategy as we seek to diversify the number of available markets for Irish exporters of food and agri-services.

"This mission will be key to re-introducing Irish companies to the Iranian market and buyers and will no doubt pave the way for greater collaboration with Irish exporters."