Wednesday, 19 December 2018
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
450. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of beef and sheepmeat access to China; the position regarding the outstanding certification required before final access is granted; and when these are expected to be granted. [53648/18]
My officials continue to work towards opening and enhancing access to as many markets as possible. This is a key part of our response to the challenges and uncertainty posed by Brexit, and in line with the market development theme of the Food Wise 2025 strategy.
The opening of the Chinese market for Irish beef earlier this year was the culmination of significant work, over a number of years, and I am delighted that six Irish beef plants are currently approved to export beef to China. Exports of Irish beef to China have already commenced.
My officials are currently working towards progressing applications for additional beef plants approvals, in order to increase Ireland's ability to supply the market, and this was the subject of a bilateral technical meeting at Senior Official level in Beijing at the start of November.
Although Ireland does not currently have access to the Chinese market for sheepmeat, this has also been discussed in recent months at both Ministerial and technical meetings. An invitation has been extended to the relevant Chinese authorities (GACC) to include a sheepmeat audit of Ireland in their 2019 schedule of audits. While the exact timelines for gaining sheepmeat access remain a matter for the Chinese authorities, DAFM hopes to progress this further in 2019.
Last month, my colleague, Minister of State Andrew Doyle TD, had a series of political and promotional engagements at the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai and at the Seafood Expo in Qingdao. This follows the trade mission I led to China in May and an inward visit by the Chinese Minister for Agriculture in October, underlining our commitment to progressing key political and trade relationships with China. Total Irish agri-food trade exports to China were €974 million in 2017, our third largest market overall for agri-food exports.