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Market Access for Irish Beef to China

18 April 2012

IRELAND - Speaking in Beijing earlier this week, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney welcomed the agreement to set up a Joint Working Group on market access for Irish beef to the Chinese market involving the Chinese Inspection and Quarantine Service (AQSIQ) and his Department.

Minister Coveney said: "This is a major step forward and one of the few such joint working groups which have been established by the Chinese authorities."

He also said that he was very pleased that Vice Minister Wei from AQSIQ will visit Ireland from 13-16 June when, it was agreed, beef market access will be discussed further. The Minister expressed satisfaction at the priority and engagement of the Chinese authorities on this important issue for Ireland, which has been under negotiation for some time.

These developments follow the agreement and signature today of two separate Memoranda of Understanding between Minister Coveney and Minister Zhi Shuping of AQSIQ and Vice Minister Niu Dun of the Ministry of Agriculture. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on agricultural co-operation provides a new five year framework for exchanges of expertise in the agriculture and fisheries sectors. Minister Coveney said that Vice Minister Gao Hongbin will visit Ireland in May in a continuing build up of increased cooperation between the respective Ministries of Agriculture. Vice Minister Niu Dun also responded favourably to Minister Coveney’s invitation to visit Ireland again in the near future.

The Memorandum of Understanding with AQSIQ was highly significant, providing for the first time for cooperation across the full range of sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues in relation to agriculture and food and fisheries products. The Minister said that this will ensure clear communication channels between his Department and AQSIQ thereby facilitating trade and the exchange of technical data.

Minister Coveney said that the formal agreements reached today as well as the visits of Chinese Ministers will lead to an even greater understanding of the sustainable nature of Irish agriculture and food safety controls that are integral to the production of quality Irish food products. He concluded by saying that he was very pleased with the outcome of the visit on beef and looked forward to continuing dialogue with his Chinese counterparts which will facilitate increased trade with this expanding market.

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