The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed has said he is satisfied that Ireland is making steady progress on accessing the Chinese market with beef.

In late February 2015, it was announced that China had lifted its ban on Irish beef.

Responding to a parliamentary question from Clare TD Michael Harty, the Minister said that the process of access for Irish beef to third country markets requires work at technical, diplomatic and political levels.

Ultimately, the pace of progress is determined by the receiving country, the Minister said.

In relation to China, I am satisfied that we are making steady progress.

“The formal lifting of the BSE ban by the Chinese authorities in respect of Ireland in early 2015 was followed by the submission of a detailed questionnaire to the Chinese authorities.

“In January 2016 my Department hosted a 10-day inspection visit by a team from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

“We received a copy of their report relatively recently and have replied to their findings.”

Minister Creed said that assuming that Ireland’s response to these findings is positive the next steps are to agree a protocol and a veterinary health certificate.

It will also be necessary for Irish meat establishments to be individually approved by the Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) before they are able to export to China, the Minister said.

“Although timelines are very difficult to predict in this process, I hope that such inspections will take place in 2017.”

Third country markets

Third country markets are an increasingly important alternative outlet for the industry, Minister Creed said.

I am acutely aware of the need to develop new and alternative markets, given the changing global demographics and emerging economies in Asia and elsewhere.

“Indeed this is a crucial component of the Food Wise 2025 Strategy and has been given an added impetus by the outcome of the UK referendum on Brexit.”

Having greater market access options to choose from is always an advantage as exporters are able to choose to export their products to a wider range of markets, the Minister said.

However, he also said that there are many other factors that will impact on the beef price including the global supply and demand dynamics, currency fluctuations and so on.

“While beef access to China is a very high priority, my department is also pursuing beef access to a number of other third countries including Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and Ukraine, and is working to simplify certification procedures in a number of markets to which we already have access.

“My Department will continue to work very closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Bord Bia, the industry and the European Commission on these issues.”