Irish and UK officials will “iron out” any technical issues that exist around the export of agri-food goods between the two countries, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said.

This comes following a meeting between Minister McConalogue and his UK counterpart, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Steve Barclay, on Wednesday.

Minister McConalogue said their officials will work together on any issues that may arise from the export of agricultural goods to prevent complications for Irish exporters.

“I impressed upon him our mutual interest in ensuring that trade in agri-food goods between our two countries functions as effectively as possible, notwithstanding the more complex administrative and control arrangements required as a result of Brexit.

“In this context - and against the background of the introduction this year of enhanced UK controls on agricultural goods entering and transiting Great Britain from the EU - we have agreed that our officials will engage closely to iron out any technical issues that might arise and avoid any unnecessary friction for Irish exporters,” he said.

Bilateral trade

In a statement released after his visit to London, Minister McConalogue highlighted that bilateral trade between the UK and Ireland continues to grow in both directions and was worth €2.4bn a week in 2023.

“The economic ties are extensive, integrated and mutually beneficial. We cannot however take these economic relationships for granted.

“Brexit has demonstrated that we must continue to invest in the bilateral relationship with [the] UK to maximise the benefits for both countries.

“I and the whole Government are fully committed to this and my visit to London yesterday provided opportunities to emphasise that commitment to a range of UK business leaders,” he said.

Northern Ireland Assembly

Minister McConalogue added that both he and Secretary of State Barclay welcomed the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive some two years after their collapse.

Minister McConalogue added that the UK-Ireland relationship is “deeply important” to both countries.

“We are joint stewards of the Good Friday Agreement, close neighbours with unique and diverse community ties, and trading partners who share hugely significant economic and strategic links.

“The restoration of the Northern Ireland institutions was critically important and, of course, the Windsor Framework provides an agreed basis that allows Northern Ireland, as part of the UK internal market, the unique advantage of access to the EU’s single market of nearly 450m people.

“This can be a platform for growth and development in Northern Ireland into the future,” he said.

Ireland-UK agri-food trade facts

  • Total bilateral trade in agri-food goods between the UK and Ireland was valued at €11.65bn in 2023, with Irish exports to the UK worth €6.88bn and UK exports to Ireland worth €4.77bn.
  • The UK is the number one destination for Irish exports of food and drink, representing 38% of total Irish exports in 2023.
  • Ireland is the third largest source of UK imports of food and drink.
  • Ireland is the number one destination for UK exports of food and drink.
  • Overall Ireland-UK trade facts

  • Total bilateral trade in goods and services between Ireland and the UK was worth €122bn, with exports from Ireland to the UK worth €66bn and imports from the UK to Ireland worth €57bn.
  • Services make up 58% of Ireland’s trade with the UK. Some 67% of Ireland’s exports to the UK were services exports, with 33% being goods exports.
  • Ireland was the UK’s fourth-largest export market in 2022, ahead of China (excluding Hong Kong and Macao) and France. The US, Netherlands and Germany were the top three.