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After 18 years, China has opened its markets to Irish beef

17 April 2018

While beef has been a minority taste in China compared to pork, it is growing in popularity and the country is now the world's second-biggest importer of beef.

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Martin Kenny TD has welcomed the news today that the Chinese market has been opened to Irish beef from three factories, with five more to follow.

'Opening and developing new markets is also a key part of our response to the uncertainties arising from Brexit'.

In 2000 China, along with the U.S., banned imports of beef from the European Union because of mad cow disease.

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According to Bord Bia, China officially imported more than 700,000 tonnes of beef in 2017 - a figure expected to double by 2020.

It is the culmination of years of talks between Ireland and China and the result of a "huge effort by Team Ireland", said the Minister.

Bord Bia CEO, Tara McCarthy, said: "Bord Bia, and in particular, our Shanghai office, has been actively planning and preparing for today's breakthrough, and we are now well-positioned and ready to maximize this significant opportunity for Irish beef exporters".

When asked what the message is now to Irish farmers, he said: "The message is, there are exacting demands in global markets and here is another really, really important market - probably the single biggest in volume terms - which is recognising that we are capable of meeting those exacting and demanding standards".

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The minister continued: "Our agri-food exports to China have increased roughly five-fold from around €200m in 2010 to almost €1bn a year ago".

Minister Creed will lead a trade mission to China next month to further built trade relationships with Ireland and continue dialogue with the Chinese government.

As a result of increasing urbanisation and higher disposable income, consumer demand for premium imported beef is forecast to rise over the coming years, which could see Irish agri-food exports increase dramatically.

Minister Creed said that despite the long and "exacting" process of gaining approval by the Chinese authorities, it represented a "powerful endorsement of Ireland's high standards by the Chinese administration".

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Irish beef is being allowed back into China.

After 18 years, China has opened its markets to Irish beef