Significant progress expected on sheepmeat exports to China in 2019

File photo
File photo
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The Department of Agriculture is hoping that signifciant progress can be made on access to China for Irish sheepmeat, after a meeting of officials today.

Senior Officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, today held productive technical meetings with counterparts in Beijing, in relation to meat market access and other topics of mutual interest.

At the meeting with GACC, DAFM officials submitted a further tranche of detailed applications from Irish beef plants for approval to export frozen boneless beef to China. Six Irish beef plants already have access, and trade has commenced.

The Department has prioritised the approval process for additional plants at the request of Irish industry, who see a significant opportunity on the Chinese market if the supply side is increased, to enable them to fill larger orders and export greater volumes.

Officials agreed that the priority focus for 2019 would be sheepmeat access. Ireland had previously submitted a detailed questionnaire on sheepmeat, which GACC will now review. When that review is complete, the next steps will include an inspection visit to Ireland.

Last month, the Chinese Agriculture Minister Han Changfu chose to visit Ireland and a new Action Plan for Cooperation between the two Departments of Agriculture was signed for 2019 to 2021.

As a result, the Minister for Agriculture has said in light of this, and although Ireland is at the very start of the process for sheepmeat access to China, he is hopeful that Ireland will be able to make progress in 2019.

As part of the Trade Mission to China last May, Minister Creed met with the Chinese Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Minister Han Changfu, and signalled that Ireland was interested in commencing the process for sheepmeat access.

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He said that the opening earlier this year of the Chinese beef market is the result of years of cooperation and hard work on the part of his Department, the Irish Embassy in Beijing, Bord Bia, and the Irish beef industry.

"It is a hugely significant achievement for our industry, as well as an excellent endorsement of our world-class safety standards and product quality."

Three beef plants were approved by the Chinese Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) in April and during his Trade Mission to China in May, it was confirmed that a further three beef plants had met the required standards for approval.

"These plants were subsequently formally approved and listed by CNCA in June. This was a great result and reflects the on-going work in this area."

The beef trade has now commenced, with product already having arrived into China, he said, and his officials continue to make progress on various technical issues and the focus now is on trying to get additional plants approved and listed by the Chinese authorities.

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