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Independent.ie

Saturday 20 January 2018

Irish beef could soon be on the shelves in China

Photo: GETTY
Photo: GETTY
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Significant advances in the development of Irish exports of beef, seafood and thoroughbred horses to China have been made today following a meeting between Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed and Chinese Minister Zhi Shuping in Dublin. 

The Chinese Minister, who has responsibility for the Chinese Quarantine and Inspection Service, has been in Ireland since Monday.

This morning’s meeting was the second formal bilateral meeting of the two Ministers and comes after Minister Creed’s discussions with Minister Zhi in Beijing last September. 

The progress made follows significant engagement between Irish and Chinese Officials since then culminating in today’s events in Dublin.

With reference to beef access both Ministers signed a formal protocol on beef exports to China that paves the way to access for Irish beef to China.

In order to complete the process to allow Irish beef exporters access to the Chinese market a veterinary health certificate with AQSIQ must be finalised which will be followed by an inspection visit by the Chinese Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) to approve individual processing plants for export.

Beef consumption in China has increased almost six fold between 1990 and 2015 to almost 4 kg per capita and is forecast to increase further over the coming years.

However, Chinese beef production has not kept pace with rising demand and imports are estimated to have increased to more than 1.2 million tonnes in 2016, accounting for around one third of beef consumption.

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Commenting on the meeting in Dublin, Minister Creed said, he was very pleased to welcome Minister Zhi to Ireland this morning as a follow-up to our negotiations in Beijing last September. 

"China is now such an important partner for Ireland on agri-food issues and is our third largest trading partner in this sector. Whilst we had constructive discussions on a wide range of issues, I am especially delighted today to have signed this Beef Protocol with China. This marks another major milestone in the process of getting Irish beef into the Chinese market.

"Today's signing marks the culmination of intensive political, technical and diplomatic engagement with the Chinese authorities.  I look forward to moving forward with the next steps as quickly as possible”

The Ministers also signed a protocol to facilitate trade in thoroughbred horses for an emerging racing sector in China. The protocol will open access to China to horses not born in Ireland, but present in the jurisdiction for six months. This is an important development for the sector.

On live crabs, the Ministers have agreed an export certificate which will permit the resumption of exports to the critically important Chinese market. The Irish seafood sector has been extremely anxious to resolve a number of certification issues which have hampered the trade, and exports are expected to resume in the very near future.

Minister Creed said the search for new third country markets is a top priority for my Department and has taken on an added urgency in the context of the challenges posed by Brexit.

"Today’s developments are significant steps in developing positive relationships and progressing trade with China, and I will continue to pursue such opportunities as a priority in China and elsewhere."

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