China to allow Irish beef access to country

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed

It is understood three Irish factories have been fully approved by Chinese authorities for export; ABP Clones, Co Monaghan, Slaney Meats in Co Wexford and Donegal Meat Processors.

China banned beef from the European Union and United States during the BSE crisis in 2000 - that ban was officially lifted three years ago but trade still hasn't resumed - until now.

Ireland is the first European beef exporter to secure access to China, where consumers' appetite for the meat is growing steadily.

CHINA HAS OPENED its markets to Irish beef after years of negotiations, Agriculture Minister Michael Creed confirmed this morning.

Creed said the opening of the market will provide "excellent" opportunities for Irish farmers and processors and is a key development amid the uncertainties linked to Brexit.

Although annual per capita beef consumption in China is now 4-6kg, compared to 19kg in Ireland.

The Irish agri-food trade exports to China reached €947 million previous year, with the country representing the second-largest market for Irish dairy and pork, reaching €667 million and €100 million, respectively.

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For example, the import of frozen boneless beef, the category for which Ireland will have market access, has grown nine-fold within the last five years.

Ireland exports almost a €1bn in agri-food products to China each year.

This opens up a market of nearly 1.5 billion people, of which even a fraction could help offset uncertainties arising from Brexit.

The IFA President also said it is important that the terms and conditions attached to access for Irish beef are not overly stringent.

He said China will "list a number of our beef establishments" for approval in the next few days, with hopes that other companies will also be approved shortly.

All of the visiting Chinese delegates had the opportunity to visit Irish beef farms and processors, giving them a first-hand experience and insight into Irish food production.

Minister Creed will lead a trade mission to China next month to further built trade relationships with Ireland and continue dialogue with the Chinese government.

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