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Exciting progress on prospects for Beef market access to Chinese market

Full technical visit by Chinese Authorities to take place within next month

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, is this week hosting a visit from Chinese Vice Minister Gao Hongbin, from the Chinese Agriculture Ministry.

Following his arrival on Tuesday, Vice Minister Gao and his delegation attended a meeting and working dinner with Minister Coveney in the Dáil to discuss plans for deepening co-operation in a number of areas. On the question of beef market access Minister Goa confirmed that arrangements are being made by the Chinese authorities to send a full technical team to Ireland in the next four weeks to examine at first hand the controls applying to beef production. Minister Coveney welcomed this very significant step forward and expressed confidence that the Irish control system would provide the necessary reassurances to the Chinese experts.

Minister Goa is scheduled to visit the Teagasc Animal and Grassland and Food Research Centre in Moorepark, Fermoy later today, where he will be given an overview of the Teagasc Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation programme and will be shown the extensive research facilities in Moorepark. The Vice Minister will also visit an export-approved beef plant. Minister Gao’s visit follows on from Minister Coveney’s successful trade mission to China last month, when it was agreed that the he would come to Ireland with a view to fostering increased cooperation and understanding in the areas of agriculture, fisheries and food.

As well as meeting with Minister Coveney, Minister Gao, who has responsibility for animal husbandry, will have an opportunity to see the best that Irish grass-based farm production systems can offer in terms of producing high quality meat and dairy products, and will get an overview of Irish expertise in production research and food safety.

Referring to the visit, Minister Coveney said “The People’s Republic of China is already a significant trading partner and Ireland’s exports to China have expanded very significantly in recent years. In addition, the number of Irish companies that have established themselves in the country has grown steadily. I believe that we have much to offer China, in terms of quality food products, technology, at both processing and primary production level and expertise in the design and application of public health control systems. Visits such as this one are vital in building the kind of confidence in the quality of our produce and the reliability of our food safety and veterinary control systems that will underpin future trade in agri food products.

I am delighted that this visit has provided both my Department and Teagasc with an opportunity for Minister Gao to see the excellent research and development facilities we have in Ireland in the fields of production and food science. The Minister will also see at first hand the quality of our beef and the excellence of our food safety controls. Gaining access for Irish beef onto the Chinese market is a priority for me and my Department and in order to do this, we must gain the confidence of our Chinese colleagues. I am delighted that a full technical team will travel to Ireland within weeks which I believe is a very important step towards securing market access for Irish beef. This visit by Minister Gao has provided us not only with a valuable opportunity to discuss this and other issues at a face-to-face level in an informal atmosphere, but has allowed us to provide the Minister with tangible evidence of the integrity of our controls. There is no doubt in my mind that Minister Goa’s visit is another important step in building opportunities for Irish Agri Food businesses wishing to develop an export trade with China”.