Thursday, 25 October 2018

Ceisteanna (299)

Charlie McConalogue


299. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the progress on acquiring sheep and beef meat access to China. [44518/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The opening earlier this year of the Chinese beef market is the result of years of cooperation and hard work on the part of my Department, the Irish Embassy in Beijing, Bord Bia, and the Irish beef industry. It is a hugely significant achievement for our industry, as well as an excellent endorsement of our world-class safety standards and product quality.

Three beef plants were approved by the Chinese Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) in April. During my Trade Mission to China in May, it was confirmed that a further three beef plants had met the required standards for approval. These plants were subsequently formally approved and listed by CNCA in June. This was a great result and reflects the on-going work in this area.

The beef trade has now commenced, with product already having arrived into China. My officials continue to make progress on various technical issues and the focus now is on trying to get additional plants approved and listed by the Chinese authorities.

As I have previously stated, the role of the Government is to open up market access and to remove barriers to trade; the industry must then make its own decisions in relation to market priorities. But I hope that Irish beef exports will follow the same success that our dairy and pigmeat sectors have enjoyed in China to date.

As part of the Trade Mission to China last May, I met with the Chinese Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Minister Han Changfu, and signalled that Ireland was interested in commencing the process for sheepmeat access. I was delighted that the Minister Han Changfu chose to visit Ireland earlier this month. Together we signed a new Action Plan for Cooperation between our Ministries for 2019 to 2021. The first meeting of the Joint Committee on Agricultural Cooperation (JCAC) between both Departments followed our bilateral meeting. The Minister also visited a sheep farm in Cork. Although we are now at the very start of the process for sheepmeat access, I hope that we will be able to make progress next year.