The UK-China Beef Protocol signed today (18 June) by Defra Minister Robert Goodwill and the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, comes more than 20 years after the Chinese government imposed a ban on UK imports of beef in 1996.
China is currently the UK’s eighth largest export market for food and drink, with more than £610 million worth of products bought by Chinese consumers last year. The UK-China Beef Protocol is the culmination of several years of site inspections and engagement between UK and Chinese government officials and could be worth an estimated £230 million for British producers in the first five years alone.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said:
"Today’s step is welcome progress for our world-leading British beef producers, who will soon be able to export their products to one of the world’s largest economies, supporting local jobs and bringing millions of pounds to the UK economy each year.
"This comes as a result of years of hard work across government, and marks the next step in realising our global trading ambitions with unbeatable British food.
"As we leave the European Union, we will continue to break down market access barriers to make it easier for UK businesses to trade across the world."
NFU chief livestock adviser John Royle said:
"Export approval to China for beef was finally secured after many years of hard work from industry, the AHDB and Defra, and is a major achievement. Export access for the UK was granted based on the same principles as any other exporting country. The Chinese authorities carried out a series of inward inspections to check systems are in place to control and monitor disease, livestock traceability and hygiene controls at the point of processing.
"Approval to export is either based on a plant by plant basis or in this case a systems based approach. Therefore the Chinese have approved our ‘control systems’ which recognises that our standards are robust and consistently applied across all processing businesses. Processors can, once on the ‘approved’ list apply for export licences to export goods direct into China. Many of the larger processors will already be exporting some processed animal products into Hong Kong.
"Exporting parts of the carcase to these markets helps support the farm gate price through improvements to carcase balance. The evidence to support this is strong as we simply do not consume all parts in the UK."
NFU livestock board chairman Richard Findlay said:
“This is clearly very positive news for British beef producers, who now have the opportunity to supply one of the biggest markets in the world. This is a significant achievement by Defra and AHDB and a landmark step in growing our exports. The real success will be when the first shipment of British beef lands on Chinese shores.
“It is welcome recognition from the Chinese government that British beef is produced to some of the highest production and animal welfare standards in the world. As we look ahead to life outside of the EU, this is an important step to taking the British brand to new markets.”
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