China to accept British beef imports for first time in 20 years

Other European Union suppliers gaining access to the Chinese beef market
Other European Union suppliers gaining access to the Chinese beef market

Katie Morley

British beef will be exported to China for first time in 20 years in a £50 million boost to the UK economy.

 Yesterday China lifted its longstanding ban on exports of British beef some two decades after it was first imposed over the "mad cow disease" scandal.

Ireland and France have also gained access to the vast market in recent months.

At the height of the crisis British red meats were deemed unfit for consumption in foreign countries including China, leading to imports being banned.

It comes after Prime Minister Theresa May's trade mission to China earlier this year, during which President Xi Jinping suggested that a lifting of the beef ban was imminent. Chancellor Philip Hammond, who is visiting China this week, described the decision as "great news for British farmers."

Last year British beef and lamb also came back on the menu in the US, in what was the first major UK foreign trade deal reached since the vote to leave the EU, boosting the economy by £35 million a year according to estimates by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

China's burgeoning middle class population means exports to the nation will be even more lucrative, with Defra estimating British farmers will benefit from a much welcomed £50 million a year boost.

Defra said the milestone was the culmination of several years of site inspections and negotiations between UK and Chinese government officials.

Also Read

China is currently the UK’s eighth largest export market for agricultural food, with over £560 million worth of food and drink bought by Chinese consumers last year.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “This is fantastic news for our world-class food and farming industry and shows we can be a truly outward looking Britain outside the European Union. It is the result of painstaking and collaborative work by industry and the Defra team over many years.

“Today’s milestone will help to unlock UK agriculture’s full potential and is a major step to forging new trading relationships around the globe.”