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Minister Creed meets Secretary General of Gulf Co-operation Council

Series of events on Trade Mission to promote Irish dairy and agri-tech sectors in the region

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D. continued the agri-food Trade mission to the Gulf States today with a high-level meeting with the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). He also hosted a number of promotional events, with the focus on the Irish dairy and agri-tech sectors.

Speaking in Riyadh following his meeting with the Secretary General of the GCC, His Excellency Mr. Abdul Ratif Bin Rashid  Al Zayani,the Minister said “The GCC which represents six Gulf member States, similar to the European Union is important in terms of trade relations and standardisation of import conditions. This meeting with the Secretary General was essential to improve our understanding of the changing food safety regulations in this region in order to facilitate growing Irish exports. I emphasised at the meeting that I believe that the implementation of upcoming GCC guidelines of Food Imports also provide an opportunity for Ireland because our systems of food safety and controls appear to be very closely aligned. I took this opportunity to reassure the GCC that our food safety systems are second to none and we look forward to working with them closely in the implementation of their new requirements.”

The day’s proceedings began with a series of promotional events including an Irish Business Network- Saudi Arabia breakfast briefing.  This was followed by an Enterprise Ireland event to promote the best of Irish agri-tech offerings, where there were ten Irish companies present. The Minister used the opportunity to thank the Irish Diaspora present for their contribution to the success Irish Companies have achieved to date in the region and to promote Ireland as the producer of safe, sustainable quality food with world class companies with the technical knowhow and expertise to partner with Saudi businesses.

The Minister also had a series of high level meetings with Almarai and Al Safi Danone to discuss areas for further cooperation. Almarai is one of the leading food processors in the Gulf Region and was founded by Alistair & Paddy McGuckian in the 1970’s. Al Safi Danone is also a very significant player involved in the dairy processing sector in Saudi Arabia. The meetings both focused on areas of further cooperation with Irish companies. 

Minister Creed commented “In 2016 Saudi Arabia was the seventh highest global destination for Irish dairy exports accounted for over €130 million of exports. These are the key high-value markets which offer even more growth potential for Irish exporters. Saudi Arabia is a major market for our dairy exports and I am very pleased to note that dairy exports to Saudi Arabia have increased by almost 40% in the period from 2012 to 2016. This kind of growth will assist us in meeting the Foodwise 2025 targets. Against the Brexit backdrop, this continued diversification and expansion of markets is crucial.” 

Minister Creed also had an opportunity to visit Al Wazeen Trading Company, a joint venture with Ornua involving a €20 million investment in a state of the art facility, manufacturing white cheese for the Saudi market. Referring to his visit there the Minister said; “This company shows Irish innovation at work in overseas markets with a product developed by Ornua with the assistance of Teagasc expertise at its Moorepark facility, part funded by Enterprise Ireland selling in Saudi Arabia. It is also a good example of the kind of investment by Ireland in this market that shows good faith, helps to build positive relationships, and is good for business in the long term”.

The Saudi leg of the Trade Mission concluded today and the Delegation departed for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the remainder of the Trade Mission with a series of high profile meetings and events scheduled to take place both in Dubai and in Abu Dhabi.

Concluding the Saudi leg of the visit the Minister said: “I am delighted to have been in a position to assist Irish businesses in a key target market for future growth. We have achieved expanded access for Irish beef and commenced the process for sheep meat access to Saudi Arabia. I am particularly pleased that we have been able to represent Irish agri food and agri tech businesses, and build relationships with key political, regulatory and commercial influencers. I am confident that real commercial opportunity will follow and of course this kind of activity is a key element of the Government’s Brexit strategy. I look forward to securing further opportunities on this trade mission as we continue with our intensive programme in UAE tomorrow”.

Notes for editors

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries— Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates .The GCC was established in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in May 1981. The purpose of the GCC is to achieve unity among its members based on their common objectives and their similar political and cultural identities, which are rooted in Islamic beliefs. Presidency of the council rotates annually.

To view this Press Release as a PDF: DAFMPR 30/2017 (pdf 189Kb) 

Added 27.02.17

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D. continued the agri-food Trade mission to the Gulf States today with a high-level meeting with the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) His Excellency Mr. Abdul Ratif Bin Rashid  Al Zayani.


Date Released: 27 February 2017