Fine Gael Press Office
Deirdre Clune MEP
Monday, 30th November 2015
Clune says it is vital we have Irish producers represented on EU trade delegations to Mexico and Columbia
Deadline for applying to go on the EU trade delegation is December 4th
Fine Gael Ireland South MEP, Deirdre Clune, has welcomed the announcement by EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan that he will be leading trade missions to both Mexico and Colombia in February of 2016. He has given a commitment to explore new dairy markets for Irish and European milk. Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune has said there are 30 places available on these trade missions for senior representatives of European producers and producer organisations, and she has encouraged everyone from the Irish agri sector to apply to be a part of the delegation.
"It is critical that Ireland is well represented on these trade missions. The trip is aimed at both promoting European agri products but also on opening up those markets to our own Irish agri products. Commissioner Hogan will visit Colombia from 8 - 9 of February and Mexico from 10-12 February. Participants who accompany Commissioner Hogan will be asked to give presentations, speeches and take part in business seminars and press events designed to promote Irish and European agri products.
"I have been calling on the European Commission to intensify its efforts to identify and open new markets for our milk exports in particular. We desperately need long term certainty in our milk markets. Without this certainty and confidence, farmers will not invest in their farms and equipment going forward. As things stand, farmers are being asked to accept that their income can drop substantially from year to year. This is not an acceptable option for a young farmer thinking about a future in dairy farming. The average age of a dairy farmer in Ireland is 51 years old so we need to encourage younger farmers into the sector. The multiplier effect of farming in Ireland is the creation of local jobs in rural Ireland.
"I welcome the diplomatic initiatives at Commission level and would call for an increased focus on free trade agreements with third countries on dairy produce. Tariff protections still present a significant barrier to Irish companies that want to do business in countries like the USA. The average tariff protection for EU agricultural products is 6.6% – and is much higher for dairy products at 22%. Every year, Irish exporters pay over $300 million in tariffs.”