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17 April 2018, 05:15 | Anna Jefferson
Irish beef is heading to the Chinese market for the first time in 18 years
In January, China said it would lift its ban on British beef but farmers may have to wait years before receiving regulatory approval from Beijing; it took three years from lifting the ban on Irish beef for China to approve imports.
Despite this, our exports to China were worth nearly a billion Euro past year and Minister Creed says this move will give farmers access to the biggest market on the planet.
"I look forward to seeing another five factories being approved by the Chinese authorities and I wish those involved in that process every success".
In a statement released this morning, Creed said: "The opening of this key market presents an excellent opportunity for the Irish beef sector, from farmers through to processors, in line with the market development theme of our Food Wise strategy".
"Primarily it's a triumph for our beef farmers because they're producing quality", Minister Creed told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.
Trade growth between Ireland and China clocked up a bigger percentage growth than with any other country previous year, at 37 per cent.
Continuing, Minister Creed explained that the push to gain market access to China was part of his department's Brexit strategy given that over 50% - or in excess of 250,000t - of Irish beef exports go into the United Kingdom market.
However, farm lobby groups say it must deliver monies to farmers on the ground, as beef farmers struggle with low incomes.
CHINA has made the decision to open its markets to Irish beef following years of unsuccessful negotiations.
Minister Creed will lead a trade mission to China next month to further built trade relationships with Ireland and continue dialogue with the Chinese government.
China has seen fourfold increase in demand for meat over the last 30 years, and the country now consumes one quarter of the world's meat supply.
Average Chinese beef consumption per capita is 4kg, compared to 19kg in Ireland, so there is potential for expansion.
"In addition to this first tranche of approvals, I am hopeful that a number of other Irish beef plants will not be too far behind", he added. Overall beef imports to China have increased from under 100,000 tonnes in 2012 to around 600,000 tonnes in 2016.
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