Chinese agriculture vice-minister Gao Hongbin is to visit an export-approved beef plant today as part of a formal tour in which “significant” progress has been made in food trade talks between the two countries.
Mr Gao confirmed that Chinese authorities intend to send a full technical team to Ireland in the next four weeks to examine the controls applying to beef production.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney expressed confidence the Irish control system would provide the necessary reassurances to the Chinese experts.
Mr Coveney said: “There is no doubt in my mind that Minister Gao’s visit is another important step in building opportunities for Irish agri-food businesses wishing to develop an export trade with China.”
Yesterday, Mr Gao visited the Teagasc Animal and Grassland and Food Research Centre in Moorepark, Fermoy, Co Cork. Ministers Gao and Coveney have also discussed deepening co-operation in beef market access.
Mr Coveney said: “The People’s Republic of China is already a significant trading partner and Ireland’s exports to China have expanded significantly in recent years. In addition, the number of Irish companies that have established themselves in the country has grown steadily.
“I believe that we have much to offer China, in terms of quality food products, technology, at both processing and primary production level and expertise in the design and application of public health control systems. Visits such as this one are vital in building the kind of confidence in the quality of our produce and the reliability of our food safety and veterinary control systems that will underpin future trade in agri-food products.”
Mr Gao’s visit follows on from Mr Coveney’s successful trade mission to China last month, when it was agreed that he would come to Ireland with a view to fostering increased co-operation and understanding in the areas of agriculture, fisheries and food.
Mr Gao will also view Irish grass-based farm production systems, sample high quality meat and dairy products, and get an overview of Irish expertise in production research and food safety.
Mr Coveney added: “Minister Gao will also see at first-hand the quality of our beef and the excellence of our food safety controls. Gaining access for Irish beef onto the Chinese market is a priority for me and my department and in order to do this, we must gain the confidence of our Chinese colleagues.
“I am delighted that a full technical team will travel to Ireland within weeks which I believe is a very important step towards securing market access for Irish beef.
“This visit by Minister Gao has provided us not only with a valuable opportunity to discuss this and other issues at a face-to-face level in an informal atmosphere, but has allowed us to provide the minister with tangible evidence of the integrity of our controls.”
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