Ireland beef processors gain access to China with three factories approved

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Ireland's agri-food exports to China have increased about five-fold from around 200 million euros ($247.73 million) in 2010 to almost $1.24 billion past year, which Creed said, "has been a remarkable achievement and underlines the importance of the Chinese market".

Creed said the opening of the market will provide "excellent" opportunities for Irish farmers and processors and is a key development amid the uncertainties linked to Brexit.

China - which has threatened tariffs on U.S. beef imports, amid growing Beijing-Washington tensions - has opened itself up to purchases from the European Union, is poised to approve supplies from three Irish plants.

Ireland represents the latest of a series of beef origins to which China has opened its doors. The importance of the beef sector to the Irish Agri-food economy can not be underestimated and it is a sector which must be supported develop its benefit to the primary producer.

RTE said the three are reportedly the first European beef processors to gain access to China.

By 2020, it is estimated Chinese consumers will eat close to nine million tonnes of beef.

"China is allowing more beef imports and importing countries", the bank said, adding that this was "intensifying competition" in the world market.

Rising demand, combined with the expense of domestically produced meat, means China is looking overseas for its beef.

China has already granted access for chilled beef from Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the USA, from where imports of the meat are now threatened with tit-for-tat tariffs.

Michael Creed says after years of hard work, the Chinese authorities are ready to accept Irish meat supplies.

Trade growth between Ireland and China clocked up a bigger percentage growth than with any other country a year ago, at 37 per cent.

The average beef consumption per capita every year is 4kg, compared to the average Irish consumption of 19kg per person. Overall beef imports to China have increased from under 100,000 tonnes in 2012 to around 600,000 tonnes in 2016.

The minister said: "I firmly believe that our beef industry can and will compete effectively in the Chinese market and I look forward to the opportunities that this access will bring".

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