Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue today announced significant advances in gaining access to the Chinese market for Irish sheepmeat.
Minister McConalogue and Minister NI of the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC) have signed and exchanged formal protocols that will pave the way for the export of sheepmeat and breeding pigs from Ireland to China.
Minister McConalogue said: “The sheepmeat protocol that I have signed today represents an important milestone in gaining access to the Chinese market. China is a substantial importer of sheep meat, with a positive outlook for demand in the long term. I expect that, when the remaining steps are completed to enable trade to commence, exports will grow gradually over time, as Chinese consumers become familiar with the quality and taste of our Irish sheepmeat offering.”
Minister of State Martin Heydon TD, who has responsibility for new market development, said:
“My Department, in collaboration with the Embassy of Ireland in Beijing, has pursued market access for sheepmeat with the Chinese authorities over a number of years. The agreement reached today follows on from a successful inspection of Irish plants by GACC auditors in August / September 2019.”
“I know that Bord Bia has already conducted market insight research on the Chinese sheepmeat market, and is working with the industry on market preparations.”
A number of technical steps remain before GACC can include the list of approved plants on their website. In addition, before trade can commence, DAFM will have to put in place systems and safeguards to ensure compliance with protocol requirements on eligible product. This may take a number of months.
Minister McConalogue and Minister NI also signed a protocol on live pigs, which sets out the quarantine and hygiene requirements for the export of high-quality breeding pigs to China.
Minster Heydon commented that “this agreement is a recognition of Ireland’s strong history of breeding and selling superior health status pigs to many overseas markets. The export of breeding pigs with economically important traits is a niche market opportunity. It reflects well on the breeding population developed by specialist Irish producers.”
Department officials, through the Embassy of Ireland in Beijing, continue to engage positively with their Chinese counterparts with a view to re-opening market access for Irish beef. However, the timing of that decision lies with the Chinese authorities.
Minister McConalogue commented: “Regaining beef access to the Chinese market remains a priority. Our engagement on these protocols is encouraging in this regard, and I hope that the Chinese authorities will soon be in a position to make a positive decision to allow exports to resume.”