I propose to take Questions Nos. 1192 and 1193 together.
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 in 2018 was the culmination of significant work over a number of years and I am pleased that seven Irish beef plants are currently approved to export beef to China.
Exports of Irish beef to China commenced during the summer of 2018. According to CSO trade statistics, Ireland exported approximately €2.8 million (1,400 tonnes) to China in 2018. With regard to 2019, again according to CSO trade statistics, Ireland exported approximately €1.9 million (695 tonnes) to China in the two month period January/February, which represents a very positive start to the year and I hope that this growth trend to continue throughout this year.
My officials continue to liaise with the appropriate Chinese officials on market access and plant approvals in order to increase Ireland's ability to supply the market. My Department is working on progressing all of the outstanding applications for approval to export beef to China. However, the timeline for these approvals remains a matter for the Chinese authorities.
I will lead a trade mission to China next week and I look forward to discussing progress on the outstanding beef plant applications at Government-to-Government meetings during the course of the trade mission.