Steady progress has been made in securing access for Irish beef to China with further inspection visits to Ireland expected to take place later this year.
After receiving a report on last January's inspection visit by a Chinese team, Michael Creed, Minister for Agriculture, is ready for the next step.
Meanwhile, optimism over meat export demands to Asia was also highlighted at Bord Bia's annual meat marketing seminar.
However, Brexit concerns remain rife within the agri-food industry.
"In relation to China, I am satisfied that we are making steady progress. The formal lifting of the BSE ban by the Chinese authorities in respect of Ireland in early 2015 was followed by the submission of a detailed questionnaire to the Chinese authorities," said Minister Creed.
"We received a copy of their report relatively recently and have replied to their findings. Assuming our response to these findings is positive, the next steps are to agree a protocol and a veterinary health certificate," he said.
"It will also be necessary for Irish meat establishments to be individually approved by the Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) before they are able to export to China.
"Although timelines are very difficult to predict in this process, I hope that such inspections will take place in 2017," he said.
Brendan Gleeson, assistant secretary at the Department of Agriculture also hinted at the looming inspection at Bord Bia's annual meat marketing seminar which provided the Irish meat sector with an overview of global market performance in 2016.
The importance of Asia as a destination for Irish meat was highlighted by Rupert Claxton from GIRA, the international research consultancy specialising in the meat and dairy sectors.
Neil Doherty, senior director, with the Sysco Corporation examined 'American Perceptions of lamb' and explained how lamb is outpacing other red meats in fine dining restaurants.
Dr Carrie Ruxton, a specialist in nutrition gave an objective analysis of meat in a healthy diet, focusing on recent media coverage of scientific studies.
Brexit was a major talking point. Adrian Gahan, managing director of Sancroft - an international sustainability consultancy - said there was still no agreement on the UK negotiating objectives and he claimed that the Conservative government was suffering from a "decision paralysis".
When asked what Brexit means for the Irish meat industry he said Ireland would suffer economically and politically from "a cliff-edge" Brexit.
"The Irish agri-food sector needs UK/EU to agree an interim deal for maximum business certainty."