Farm Ireland

Monday 19 March 2018

New travel rules allow Chinese to make debut

Ken Whelan

Not known for their prowess in the cut-throat world of shearing, the Chinese team will make their international debut at Gorey this weekend.

They are here as guests of Texacloth Ltd, the Kildare-based export company that has been trading wool with China since the 1980s.

Company MD, Alan Walsh, who describes himself as an "old China hand", said the trip was made possible because of new and more liberal travel laws introduced over there in recent years.

There has been no international presence from the Chinese at these types of events because traditionally all the sheep shearing was carried out on the state-owned farms in China by soldiers who were only seconded to the farms for the shearing season.

The Chinese team are due in Dublin today and will go straight into competition in north Wexford later this week.

"We thought that since they could travel under the new laws it would be nice for us to host them at the Golden Shears World Championships.

"It will be the first time the Chinese will have a team at the event and we will be hosting their shearers and wool handlers as well as an interpreter," Walsh told the Farming Independent.

Texacloth Ltd have been doing business with China for more than 30 years and were one of the first European agri-businesses to see the possibilities of trading in such a large market.

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The company is currently based in Naas and Clane, but in the past it also had premises in Dublin and in Enniscorthy, where it took over the wool business run by the late father of the former Minister for Agriculture, Ivan Yates.

It mainly exports to China where it relies on an agency, and is also active in exporting Irish and continental wool to India.

It sources a 'good proportion' of its wool for export here in Ireland, but Mr Walsh is also an active buyer in Northern Ireland, Britain, Estonia, Greece and Serbia.

Ever the business man, Walsh reminded the Farming Independent that "wool prices are strong at the moment and that the bad old days when the value of lowland fleece did not cover the cost of shearing were over".

"Irish prices at €1.20/kg would be higher but for the weakness of the dollar," he claimed.

Indo Farming