Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has announced the resumption of Irish beef exports to China.

Beef shipments to China were suspended following the confirmation in May 2020 of an isolated case of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

This isolated case did not enter the food chain and posed no risk to human health.

Nevertheless, beef exports were immediately suspended as a precautionary measure in line with the bilateral protocol on trade agreed with the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC).

Speaking this morning (Thursday, January 5), Minister McConalogue stated: “Negotiating the resumption of beef access has been a top priority for my department over the last two and a half years.

“Together with colleagues in the Embassy of Ireland in Beijing, my officials have been in ongoing contact with the Chinese authorities since the start of the suspension. They provided the necessary technical information for evaluation by Chinese experts.

“Earlier this year, as a result of my communication with my counterpart in charge of GACC, our officials engaged in further bilateral talks to finalise the restoration of beef access based on scientific principles.

“Ireland’s reputation as an exporter of high-quality beef worldwide hinges on its compliance with stringent animal health and food safety standards,” the minister added.

Irish beef to China

Minister McConalogue said that Ireland can resume exporting beef to China under the same conditions as before the 2020 suspension.

“This decision is a great vote of confidence in our beef sector and our committed suckler and beef farmers who produce a world-class product. I look forward to seeing the value of the Chinese market grow in the time ahead to reward the efforts of everyone involved,” he said.

Minister of State Martin Heydon, whose responsibilities include market development, welcomed the development as a positive one for the Irish beef sector.

“We will continue to work with the Chinese authorities to maintain and enhance our access to the Chinese market for Irish food and drink,” he said.

“I know that Bord Bia will soon set in motion a programme of promotions to allow exporters capitalise on the opportunities offered by this announcement.

“Prior to the suspension, overall Irish beef exports to China were on an upward trajectory and I am confident that we can quickly regain momentum and market share there,” he added.

He paid tribute to the efforts of Ireland’s Ambassador to China, Dr. Ann Derwin; the current and previous agricultural attachés; and everyone at the Embassy of Ireland in Beijing for their efforts in bringing about today’s development.

“I also want to acknowledge the work of Bord Bia Shanghai in communicating the quality and sustainability of Irish beef to key trade customers in China,” Minister Heydon added.