UK and China to start beef and lamb talks

The UK and China are in negotiations that could see the export ban on British beef and lamb being lifted for the first time since the BSE outbreak 30 years ago.

Defra has reported that an agreement has been signed with its Chinese counterparts to begin negotiations over export routes for British beef and lamb.

During China’s annual visit to the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron hopes to reach an agreement with Premier Li Keqiang over exports, which could contribute £120m to the economy each year.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: “This landmark agreement will be a great boost to British food exporters, a major part of our long-term economic plan, and could be worth millions to our economy. British beef and lamb are excellent quality, so I welcome the opportunity to begin talks with the Chinese government to open trade routes for these great products once again.”

Paterson visited China with the Prime Minister last year, where he secured a £45m export deal for British pork, but has continued to press for a deal on beef and lamb.

The news has been welcomed by the industry. Gwyn Howells, Chief Executive of Hybu Cig Cymru the meat promotion body for Wales said: “This is excellent news and shows that the work we have put in over a number of years with the Chinese authorities is beginning to pay off.”

Eblex chairman John Cross said: “The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding is a major step forward in our negotiations to help secure market access to China for our beef and lamb.

“This is something we have been working on for some time already, together with government and a number of other agencies. It is a long-haul project, but the potential prize is very big for the UK.

“As the most rapidly growing market in the world for beef and lamb, China presents enormous opportunities for UK exporters. We very much welcome the latest developments and look forward to working with government to take these negotiations forward.”

Gwyn Howells, chief executive of Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) – Meat Promotion Wales, said it was excellent news with great potential for Welsh meat. “Welsh Lamb has been available in Hong Kong for many years, but we are keen to export it to mainland China.

“The Chinese market is vast with a growing appetite for red meat. I am confident that Welsh Lamb is exactly the kind of premium quality meat that is demanded by the growing number of affluent consumers thanks to the country’s booming economy,” he added.

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