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Smith confirms Resumption of Pork Trade with China - Immediate potential for €20 million in trade for Irish Pork

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today confirmed that the Chinese market has been fully reopened to Irish pigmeat.

The announcement follows meetings in Beijing today between Minister Smith and the Chinese Minister for Agriculture, Mr Han Changfu, and the Minister for Quality, Supervision and Inspection, Mr Wang Yong.

Following these meetings, Minister Smith said "I am delighted that the Chinese market is once again fully open to Irish pigmeat. I believe there will be potential immediately for €20 million in trade, and this can be built on significantly in the years ahead.  Today's announcement marks the end of the interruption to trade that arose in late 2008 and I am particularly pleased that all countries have now reopened their markets to us".

The Minister expressed his appreciation of the constructive engagement on the part of the Chinese authorities in evaluating the enhanced controls put in place in Ireland and in coming to the decision that all issues were now resolved to their satisfaction.  Minister Smith also conveyed his appreciation to the officials in his Department, Bord Bia and the Irish Embassy in Beijing, all of whom contributed very significantly to the reopening of the market.

During the course of today's meetings, Minister Smith pressed also for the opening of the Chinese market to Irish beef and other meat products. In the case of beef, the Minister emphasised his commitment to fulfilling China's requirements for the resumption of this trade.  He called for an intensification of the dialogue between the two countries on the beef issue adding "considering the size of the Chinese market and the expected growth in consumption of meat products it is vital that Ireland is positioned to take advantage of that market. China will in future be a critical outlet for meat offals in particular and I am anxious that the Irish meat sector be in a position to trade here on the same terms as other exporting countries".

Commenting generally on the importance of China as a developing market, the Minister referred to the massive potential of the Chinese market for agri food products. China has a population of more than 1.3 billion people, and between 650 and 700 million people live in urban areas. The Minister pointed out that urbanisation was a key growth driver in China, and that average disposable household income in urban areas is three times that of rural areas, with food accounting for as much as 32% of household expenditure in urban areas.

"China is already a significant net importer of food, he said, and is developing rapidly. It is critically important,  if the Agri Food sector in Ireland is to reach its full growth potential, that Irish Food Business Operators develop a presence in these markets, and establish the  personal contacts at commercial and official level that  are so necessary for developing new market opportunities.  I am delighted to have been able to make a contribution to that effort today and I am confident that the Irish businesses that I have seen at first hand participating in the SIAL Food exhibition in Shanghai earlier this week, can, with the assistance of An Bord Bia make significant inroads into potentially valuable Chinese markets. "

Photo PR 89/10 - 21.05.2010
Minister Brendan Smith TD and Mr Wang Yong Minister for Quality, Supervision and Inspection in Beijing today

Date Released: 21 May 2010