Ireland has secured access for sheepmeat to Saudi Arabia as a result of the ongoing trade mission to the Gulf states by Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and Bord Bia.
The decree lifting a ban on Irish sheepmeat has been signed by the Saudi authorities this morning, with the official authorisation to follow in the coming days.
It is believed that the decree could make the Irish Department of Agriculture the competent authority, which would allow the Irish authorities list the plants here to supply sheepmeat to Saudi Arabia.
The sheepmeat must be halal to cater for the Saudi market.
Confirming the deal, Minister Creed said: "To get access, a lot of technical work goes on, but it emphasises the point of the importance of meeting at a political level."
ICSA sheep chair John Brooks welcomed the news and commended Minister Creed's role in securing the Saudi Arabian markets for Irish beef and lamb in the Gulf States trade mission.
"It’s great to see these efforts pay off and we need further concerted efforts to secure more potentially lucrative markets,” he said.
Brooks said that there was a need to focus on live exports of sheep. He said that the recent deal for 10,000 hoggets to the Middle East was evidence that there was demand for live exports of Irish sheep.
"An integrated strategic plan is required to adequately exploit all those markets where at the moment we only scratch the surface. Planning would involve the Department of Agriculture, Teagasc, Bord Bia, live exporters and producers all working together to develop a coordinated approach," Brooks said.