13th December, 2011
Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) national president, Gabriel Gilmartin, today (13th December) claimed that the strength of the euro could hinder export growth in the next few years. Mr. Gilmartin, who was speaking at the ICSA AGM & Conference, said that “the determination of the ECB to keep the euro strong serves only the interests of Germany at present.”
He contrasted the policies of the ECB and the Bank of England on quantitative easing which has resulted in the value of the euro going from 69p to 85p in five years. Mr. Gilmartin pointed out that, for beef, the UK is still our most important export market accounting for almost half of all beef exports. He added that we are also competing with British exports such as lamb on the French market. “My concern is that the recent EU summit has again completely ignored the way in which the ECB policy is keeping the euro high relative to sterling.”
Mr. Gilmartin suggested that the ambitious expansion plans set out in the Food Harvest report and by the activation groups charged with its implementation may be overly optimistic.
“While there is a renewed sense of confidence, we need to take a balanced view. Beef production in Ireland cannot expand rapidly in the short term, without a sustainable increase in demand so that a viable price is achieved.
“We need to ensure first that €4/kg can be maintained. And second, we need to see real progress in developing Brand Ireland and building demand for Irish beef on a wide range of premium EU and other markets.”
However, he concluded with a note of caution that the exchange rate was a real issue for Irish exports. “This is not a suggestion that we should leave the euro, rather it is a call for a review of how the ECB strategy is supportive of a minority of member states at the expense of the majority in the EU.”