Following high level discussions between the Irish and Chinese governments, it has been confirmed that access for Irish beef exports to China will resume.
In 2018 Ireland had secured access for the export of frozen boneless beef to China. Exports had grown steadily until shipments were suspended in May 2020. This action was in line with the sanitary agreement governing the beef trade with China. The suspension was lifted in January 2023 and the value of Irish beef exports to China had grown to €20m before the most recent suspension in November 2023. The suspension came in to effect as a precaution following the confirmation of an isolated case of atypical BSE. The isolated case was detected by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marines’ surveillance programme and did not enter the food chain and did not pose a risk to human health.
Atypical BSE occurs in all cattle populations at a very low rate. Irish beef is recognised internationally for having the lowest possible risk status for BSE. The World Organisation of Animal Health (WOAH) awarded Ireland a negligible risk designation in May 2021, providing independent verification of the effectiveness of Ireland’s control system for BSE. Identification of an Atypical BSE case does not impact on Ireland’s negligible risk status.
In response to this development, Bord Bia has reactivated its €1.6m EU co-funded beef and lamb campaign to regain export access to the Chinese market. Bord Bia chief executive Jim O’Toole described this development as “welcome news for the Irish beef sector and allows our beef exporters to immediately recommence trade with their Chinese customers.”
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