Three beef factories have been approved by the Chinese authorities and are the first European beef processors to gain access to that country
17 April, 2018, 05:17
The minister made the comments as he spoke on RTE Radio 1'sMorning Ireland show, delivering the news that the Chinese market has been opened to Irish beef exports.
China banned beef from the European Union and United States during the BSE crisis in 2000 - that ban was officially lifted three years ago but trade still hasn't resumed - until now.
Ireland's agri-food exports to China rose from about €200 million in 2010 to €974 billion a year ago.
The minister said: "I firmly believe that our beef industry can and will compete effectively in the Chinese market and I look forward to the opportunities that this access will bring".
MII's Cormac Healy said the first group of plants was expected to be in a position to begin trade with China in the very near future. Since then Chinese officials have been inspecting Irish beef producers to make sure that they meet the required standards.
Three Ireland-based beef processors have gained access to the Chinese market, with five more potentially in the pipeline.
Chinese demand for meat has quadrupled in the last three decades, and the country now consumes one quarter of the world's supply.
Trade growth between Ireland and China clocked up a bigger percentage growth than with any other country past year, at 37 per cent. "For beef, the door has now been opened and there is a real opportunity for the industry to build on this". The importance of the beef sector to the Irish Agri-food economy can not be underestimated and it is a sector which must be supported develop its benefit to the primary producer.
Ireland exports almost a €1bn in agri-food products to China each year.
Mr Creed said he would lead a trade mission to China next month to further build on Ireland's trade relationships and continue the dialogue with the Chinese government. Consumption is on the rise and an average annual increase of just 1kg per capita would equate to an additional 1.38 million tonnes of beef per annum.
Dublin is hoping for approval for a further five plants, the report added.
Irish Farmers" Association president Joe Healy also welcomed the news but said it is key that the agreement delivers higher margins to farmers and that terms and conditions attached to market access are not "overly stringent'.
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