Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Ceisteanna (496)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

496. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if beef from a herd with a history of tuberculosis can be exported to China; if there are restrictions in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5297/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In April 2017 I agreed a Protocol on the export of frozen boneless beef from Ireland to China with the Minister responsible for the Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), following negotiations between both Departments. This Protocol contains the terms and conditions for the export of beef to China

This Protocol states that the live cattle from which the frozen beef to be exported to China is derived, should originate from farms where there has been no clinical cases of various diseases, including tuberculosis (TB), detected within the past 12 months. Therefore beef can be exported from herds that historically have had TB, as long as it was not within the last 12 months.

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 delighted that six Irish beef plants are currently approved to export beef to China. Exports of Irish beef to China commenced during the summer in 2018. By the end of November, according to the CSO, around 1,250 tonnes (€2.4 million) had been exported, which is an indication that companies are beginning to gain a foothold in the market.

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. Total Irish agri-food trade exports to China were €974 million in 2017, our third largest market overall for agri-food exports, according to the CSO.