China has officially lifted its decades-old ban on exports of beef from the UK this week, in a landmark move which is expected to be worth £250 million to British producers in the first five years.
The Prime Minister announced a deal had been struck in January during a visit to Bejing, but now allow official market access negotiations can begin, a process which typically takes around three years.
China imposed a ban on British beef after the BSE crisis in 1996.
Defra Secretary Michael Gove said: “This is fantastic news for our world-class food and farming industry and shows we can be a truly outward looking Britain outside the European Union. It is the result of painstaking and collaborative work by industry and the Defra team over many years.
“Today’s milestone will help to unlock UK agriculture’s full potential and is a major step to forging new trading relationships around the globe.”
China is currently the UK’s eighth largest export market for agri-food, with over £560 million worth of food and drink bought by Chinese consumers last year.
AHDB has also welcomed the announcement.
The board’s international market development director Dr Phil Hadley said: “We are delighted that China has lifted the ban on UK beef. This marks an important milestone in growing our meat exports to this all-important market.
“Today’s news follows years of collaboration between AHDB, Government and industry to make this a reality and we look forward to seeing UK beef exported to the country for the first time in over 20 years.
“We will now begin the work on the export protocols and approvals to allow commercial shipments to begin.”