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Coveney Leads Major Trade Mission to China

“Maintaining Momentum for Irish Agri Food Critically Important”

Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, today leads a major trade mission to China. This region is a major importer of agri food and fisheries products and this mission provides Irish companies with an exciting opportunity to increase their profile in China and build relationships with potential business partners and buyers. The Trade Mission will cover five major cities in five days with a total of fifty key engagements. Some 37 Irish companies will accompany the Minister on the mission, along with senior officials from his Department and from State Agencies in the agri food and fisheries sector.  

Speaking before his departure, The Minister stated that ‘Ireland and China have already forged strong links not only in terms of trade but also in terms of cooperation in the agri-food and fisheries areas’. Ireland sees China as a key strategic trade partner. China has a strong demand for imports of quality food, given the size of its population and concerns over food security and safety and Ireland is strategically placed to be a key supplier of quality meats, dairy products, beverages, seafood and other products and services to China/Hong Kong. Already in the first six months of 2014 Ireland exported over € 405m in dairy, meats, beverages seafood and hides and skins to China compared with a figure of €300m for the same period in 2013. This is tremendous progress in a very short period of time, and this mission is about building on that momentum.

The key focus of the trade mission will be;


  • Progressing market access for Irish beef
  • Showcasing Ireland as a source of high quality sustainably produced dairy products
  • Expanding opportunities for our seafood sector
  • Promote Ireland as strategic partners for agri-food and agri-services
  • Facilitating and fostering increased business opportunities for Irish companies

This Trade Mission is part of an ongoing drive to further develop Ireland’s trade relationship with the second biggest economy in the world. It follows on from Minister Coveney’s successful visit to China in April 2012, and a number of reciprocal visits to Ireland by high ranking members of the Chinese Government, including Chinese President, Mr Xi Jinping, over the last number of years. It will further cement the relationship with key Chinese political and commercial players and facilitate market access for Irish agri-food and seafood exports to China.  Progressing the beef access issue will be a key mission objective.

The Mission will include meetings with the Chinese Minister for the Inspection and Quarantine Service, Mr Shuping, the Minister for Agriculture, Mr Hans Changfu, the Minister for the Chinese Food and Drugs Administration, Dr Yin Li BO and the Chinese Vice Minister for International Trade in the Ministry of Agriculture Minister Niu Dun. The Minister will also meet with key government officials in Beijing, Qingdao, Hangzhou and Shanghai.

A key element of the visit will be building on the rapidly growing volume of dairy and infant formula exports from Ireland to China. This will be the main focus of an Ireland-China dairy seminar in Beijing on Tuesday 5 November. The event will include speakers from all of the main dairy companies located in Ireland who export to China and is aimed at further increasing Ireland’s presence in the fast growing Chinese market. Commenting on the seminar the Minister said “this seminar is aimed at expanding Ireland’s footprint in the rapidly expanding Chinese dairy market, which has already seen growth of 100% in the last two years and last year was worth €270m. With the abolition of dairy quotas from next April it is essential that the Irish dairy and infant formula sector has outlets for its expanded product range. This seminar builds on the successful audit of our Dairy systems and establishments earlier this year by the Chinese authorities and provides a platform for Irish business to gain further foothold in the market. In addition I will also be launching a number of premium dairy Irish products which are going on sale in China”.

Chief Executives of 37 leading Irish companies involved in the export of meats, dairy products, seafood, consumer foods, genomics and agri services sectors will also accompany the Minister to China in addition to a number of government agencies. Bord Bia has organised separate sectoral programmes for those attending in the seafood, dairy, pigment and beef sectors while EI has organised an agri services sector programme to facilitate business to business meetings with those participating in the Trade Mission. Teagasc, Sustainable Food Systems Ireland, BIM, Sea Fisheries Protection Agency, Food Health Ireland  will accompany the Minister.  A series of networking events and sectoral specific itineraries for participating companies will be organised by Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, BIM and HSI to facilitate business to business meetings with those participating in the Trade Mission. 

Commenting on the focus on Irish beef during the mission, Minister Coveney said: “progressing access for Irish meat products will also be a key strategic target of the visit with a clear focus on beef. This has been the subject of discussion between Ireland and China at the highest political levels over the last two years. We have made good progress in that time and I will again be seeking substantive progress the issue in my meetings with Chinese political counterparts next week. Securing access for Irish lamb will also take a major step forward next week when I will be formally submitting a completed technical dossier for consideration by the Chinese authorities which is the key first step in securing access. I will also be pursuing access for poultry products and asking the Chinese authorities to give consideration to progressing this dossier”.

Minister Coveney will also open the largest ever Irish pavilion at the China Seafood & Fisheries Expo which takes place in Qingdao this week and will include representatives from eleven Irish seafood companies, with in excess of 25,000 visitors expected from over 100 countries.  Minister Coveney stated ‘China continues to be a growing market for Irish seafood and with exports increasing by over 300% between since 2011 to reach €18 million in 2013. This strong trend in Irish exports to the region is continuing in 2014 with sales for the first 6 months up 56% compared to the same period last year.”

Concluding, Minister Coveney said that the growing demand for food products in a market as large as China’s was simply too important to ignore, “Thanks to a collaborative approach from Government and Industry over the last two and a half years, Irish companies have already made significant inroads into the Chinese market.  I am delighted to be in a position to build on that momentum and ensure that the Irish brand in China becomes synonymous with world class standards of production, food safety and sustainability. I am confident that this mission will enhance Ireland’s reputation and make a significant contribution to developing the footprint of Irish companies in this critically important market.”


Notes for Editors


  • China is the world's second largest economy, having surpassed Japan in 2011. China is expected to overtake the US in GDP by 2016. It is expected to become the largest economy in the world in the next 15 to 20 years.


  • With a population of 1.3 billion, China is the most populous country in the world and therefore one of the largest consumers and producers of agricultural products.


  • Urbanization is growing rapidly with almost 54% of its inhabitants living in urban areas forecast to grow to as much as 70% by 2035.  A figure China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang has ambitious plans to change. The second phase of urbanisation is expected to see China’s urban population swell to 70% by 2030 to reach 1 billion.


  • Irish food and drink exports to Asia are estimated at €611m for 2013, representing an increase of over 30% on the previous year.  The main components of the trade are Dairy Ingredients (including infant formula), pigmeat, fish and alcohol beverages. China (including Hong Kong) is by far the largest market accounting for €441m for 2013.


Trade Mission to China: Minister Simon Coveney’s itinerary


Sunday 2nd November (Dublin)

AM         Departure from Dublin Airport for Beijing Airport


Monday 3rd November (Beijing)


AM         Arrival in Beijing Airport

AM         Meeting with Ministry of Agriculture (Political meeting)

AM         Meeting with AQSIQ (Political)

PM         Meet Chinese media at Embassy of Ireland Beijing

PM         Meet Irish media at Embassy of Ireland Beijing

PM         Reception at Embassy of Ireland for Trade Delegation and meetings with companies

PM         Briefing of Minister by Trade Delegation


Tuesday 4th November (Beijing / Qingdao)


AM         EI Agri Services event China World Hotel

AM         Opening of major Dairy sector event (see separate programme)

PM         Opening of offices/ Launch of product

PM         Meeting with China Food and Drug Administration (Political meeting)

PM         Departure from Beijing for Qingdao

PM         Briefing of Minister by Trade Delegation


Wednesday 5th November (Qingdao / Hangzhou)


AM         Trade event with Seafood companies/Breakfast meeting

AM         Meeting with MOA VM Niu Dun in advance of Bord Bia Seafood expo

AM         China Fisheries and Seafood Expo, Qingdao opening of Irish stand

PM         Departure from Qingdao for Hangzhou

PM         Business meeting (Dairy)

PM         Briefing of Minister by Trade Delegation


Thursday 6th November (Hangzhou / Shanghai)


AM         Visit to Business (Dairy)

AM         Meeting with Zhejiang Provincial Government Political

PM         Departure from Hangzhou for Shanghai

PM         Business meeting (all food sectors)

PM         Working Dinner with Business (Dairy)

PM         Briefing of Minister by Trade Delegation


Friday 7th November (Shanghai)


AM         Business breakfast at Regal East Asia Hotel

AM         Meeting with Business (Dairy)

PM         Dairy event

PM         Dairy event

PM         Depart for Pudong Airport Shanghai


Sat 8th November (Shanghai / Dublin)


AM         Depart Shanghai for Dublin

AM         Arrive Dublin Airport


View Press Release as a PDF:  DAFMPR 163/2014 (pdf 887Kb) 



Date Released: 03 November 2014