Chinese market access for Irish sheepmeat next on the agenda

Access to the Chinese market for Irish sheepmeat exports is next on the agenda, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

The minister made the comments in response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fail’s agriculture spokesperson.

Speaking on the issue, Minister Creed said: “In relation to sheepmeat access, a detailed questionnaire was submitted to AQSIQ (China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine) in 2014. However, AQSIQ policy meant that the Chinese authorities would only consider market access for one species at a time.

Now that the process for beef market access is coming to a close, my department hopes to be in a position to renew negotiations towards sheepmeat market access.

Beef and pork

This comes after the minister announced the opening of the Chinese beef market early last week.

He explained that the first three beef plants were approved and listed on Monday, April 16. A further five plants are understood to be in the final stages of approval.

Commenting on the matter, Minister Creed said: “This approval is a huge achievement for my department. Getting to this stage has involved a huge joined-up effort across Government, my department and state agencies – with strong engagement with the Chinese authorities on meeting their detailed requirements.

“My department has, in conjunction with industry, been working for some time towards ensuring that trade with China can commence and run smoothly.

There remain a number of technical requirements which must be satisfied before beef trade can commence. It is expected that these requirements will take a number of weeks to complete.

In addition, the approved plants will have to deal with their own technicalities including testing requirements. However, I expect that the trade will commence this summer.

Meanwhile, Ireland has already had access to the Chinese market for pigmeat for more than 10 years, the minister explained.

Concluding, he said: “Trade has increased considerably from 2,440t in 2010 to around 65,000t in 2017, with the value of these exports increasing from around €2 million to over €100 million over the same period.

“China is now the second largest destination for our pigmeat exports after the UK.”