Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Sports | By Brooke Harris

China to allow Irish beef access to country

China to allow Irish beef access to country

Continuing, Minister Creed explained that the push to gain market access to China was part of his department's Brexit strategy given that over 50% - or in excess of 250,000t - of Irish beef exports go into the United Kingdom market.

The demand for meat products in China has grown rapidly in recent years, and the country now consumes one-quarter of the world's supply.

It has been three years since China formally lifted a ban on Irish beef exports imposed after the BSE crisis.

The average beef consumption per capita every year is 4kg, compared to the average Irish consumption of 19kg per person.

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"Opening and developing new markets is also a key part of our response to the uncertainties arising from Brexit".

Irish agri-food exports to China have increased five-fold over the past eight years and were worth an estimated €974m last year, including €667m in dairy and €100m in pigmeat exports.

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

For beef, the door has now been opened and there is a real opportunity for the industry to build on this, added Creed, who will lead a trade mission to China next month to further build on Ireland's trade relationships.

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Irish Farmers" Association president Joe Healy also welcomed the news but said it is key that the agreement delivers higher margins to farmers and that terms and conditions attached to market access are not "overly stringent'.

China first banned exports of beef from Europe in 2001 in response to the outbreak of mad cow disease and the ban also covered U.S. beef after the disease appeared in the United States in 2003. Inspectors from the China state administration of quality supervision, inspection and quarantine have made regular trips to beef plants in Ireland.

The minister said: "I firmly believe that our beef industry can and will compete effectively in the Chinese market and I look forward to the opportunities that this access will bring.

I am hopeful that a number of other Irish beef plants will not be too far behind", he said. Department officials will complete the final technicalities to allow trade to commence in the coming weeks.

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