RoI Taoiseach Enda Kenny, NI First Minister Peter Robinson and NI Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness are expected to travel to Tokyo and Osaka at the beginning of the month.
US government figures value Japanese imports of beef and veal at an annual $2bn, making it the third-biggest global market, while total agricultural imports are valued at $40bn.
Japan banned EU beef imports in 2001, and US imports in 2003, after their BSE outbreaks, but US trade resumed in 2005 for cattle slaughtered under 21 months in age and in 2013 for cattle under 30 months. US beef exports to Japan have surged since February 2013, according to a report published by the US Drovers Cattle Network, rising 52% in the first seven months of the year.
The decision by Japanese health officials to permit US beef imports from cattle aged under 30 months also extended to Canada, France and the Netherlands, raising hopes that other countries may also regain access. RoI and NI are, like France, classified as a ‘controlled BSE risk’ by the World Organisation for Animal Health.
The Taoiseach met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe back in June when, following the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, a Japanese delegation visited Dublin to discuss bilateral economic, trade and cultural relations between Ireland and Japan and broader economic issues including Ireland’s presidency of the EU and progress on an EU-Japan Trade Agreement.
As well as targeting new opportunities and showcasing the countries as high-quality suppliers of export goods, the trade mission will focus on businesses already trading with Japan and will include networking opportunities.