Officials make China done deal

Beijing has handed over the Olympic flag and now the UK is handing over its pigs in a signed deal with both governments now confirmed.

Government department for the environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) and the Chinese General Administration of Quality, Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine announced that a protocol on the conditions for the export of UK pig meat to China has now been agreed.

Minister for Trade and Investment, Lord Digby Jones, said: "The signing today of the protocol opens up a market worth, immediately, £17 million per year. It is another one of those hidden UK export stories that helps develop Brand Britain in the biggest country on earth."

The deal was part of a combined effort between Defra, the British Pig Executive, UK Trade and Investment, the Chinese Embassy in London and the Chinese authorities and falls in line with a bilateral trade target of $60 billion agreed by Gordon Brown and Premier Wen Jiabao in January.

Defra deputy chief veterinary officer, Alick Simmons, said: "The signing of this important protocol is a welcome boost to UK exporters. I hope that the UK's positive relationship with the Chinese veterinary authorities will soon lead to the UK selling pig meat to the Chinese market.

"Strict control measures in the UK meat sector have given our Chinese colleagues the confidence to work closely with the industry in this country. We look forward to continued cooperation with a view to implementing the protocol at the earliest possible opportunity."

China lifted foot-and-mouth related import restrictions earlier this month and comes at a time where in Hong Kong an import embargo has been relaxed for poultry from Norfolk and Suffolk.

A spokesman for Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety said: "In view of the control measures taken by the counties of Suffolk and Norfolk and the fact that there are no other cases of avian influenza reported, we decide to resume processing of applications."

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