Approval for the import of Irish beef by South Korea has taken a step forward with Minister of State Martin Heydon’s visit to the country in the week leading up to St Patrick’s Day. Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, the minister said he believes the approval process which has remained stuck since May 2021 will now start to move forward.

He explained: “Getting beef approved for import by South Korea is an eight-stage process and Ireland is at stage five which is the political approval stage. If we can get past this, which will take some time, then the final steps should happen more quickly.”

However, the minister doesn’t expect that approval process will be completed this year nor is it certain for 2024.

South Korea is the fourth-largest beef importer in the world and growing, taking a record 475,000t in 2022. This is double what it was 15 years ago and South Korea has the largest per-capita beef consumption in Asia.

The Irish Farmers Journal also asked the minister about the Mercosur deal, which is very much back on the agenda. He said that as an exporting country looking to exploit trade opportunities internationally, we cannot be opposed in principle. However, in relation to Mercosur, the minister expressed discomfort at rainforest clearance and emphasised the need for imports to have equivalent standards to Irish and EU production irrespective of where it is imported from.