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As Wales prepares to welcome China’s Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua to Wales, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, has welcomed the lifting of export restrictions which could see British beef producers enter the Chinese market by the end of the year.

First published:
18 June 2019
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

British beef producers enter the Chinese market by the end of the year.
The move paves the way for Wales’s iconic export – PGI Welsh Beef – to achieve a foothold in the Chinese market.

Currently, more than a third of red meat produced in Wales is exported outside the UK, predominantly to the EU, and worth around £200 million. China is already one of the UK’s largest food and drink export markets and, with the opening of the market for beef exports, presents new opportunities estimated to be worth around £25 million per year for the Welsh red meat sector.

Welsh Government is investing £1.5 million over three years for Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) to deliver a programme to support the Welsh red meat sector markets in Europe, as well as developing market access further afield. As part of this, HCC has been working with colleagues across the UK through the UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP) to lift the historic restrictions on beef and lamb exports to China.

The announcement on beef exports to China was made as part of the UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) today which agreed a new UK-China Beef Protocol securing market access for British beef exporters by the end of 2019.

On Tuesday, the Vice Premier and a delegation of Vice Ministers will start a two day visit to Wales. The Vice Premier has responsibility for agriculture within the Chinese Government and will visit a Welsh farm to find out more about Welsh Government agricultural policy and the industry’s role in safeguarding Wales’ natural resources. 

Welcoming the announcement, Minister Lesley Griffiths, said:  

“The red meat sector is of huge importance to Welsh agriculture and the economy. The announcement on the lifting of market access barriers in China is excellent news for the sector and demonstrates the Welsh Government funded Enhanced Export Programme, driven by HCC, is effectively supporting wider UK efforts in delivering results.

“It is also particularly timely as we prepare to leave the European Union, when we must take every opportunity to open new overseas markets.  The lifting of export restrictions provides a fantastic opportunity for our producers to get a foothold in the Chinese market for our iconic PGI Welsh Beef.

“We remain optimistic that export barriers for lamb to China will also be lifted in the future and we will continue to support this ongoing work, given its significance to the Welsh economy.

“Tomorrow the First Minister will welcome the Vice Premier and a delegation of Vice Ministers to Wales for a two day visit.  It will provide a great opportunity for discussions with the Vice Premier, who has responsibility for agriculture in the world’s second largest economy, on ways we can strengthen the economic links between our countries, especially for our food and drink industry.”

Gwyn Howells, Hybu Cig Cymru Chief Executive, said:

“Progress in lifting the beef export ban is very welcome, as HCC and Welsh Government have been working with colleagues across Britain through UKECP (UK Export Certification Partnership) for many years to lift historic restrictions on exporting red meat to China.

“This is a market which has incredible potential. Over recent years there has been a huge increase in the amount of beef imported by the country, from 61,000 tonnes in 2012 to nearly 700,000 tonnes five years later. Securing just 1% of this trade could be worth £25 million a year, and this figure does not include offal and other fifth quarter products for which there could be a significant market in China.

“Progress towards lifting beef export restrictions will also raise optimism regarding future lamb exports. The lifting of restrictions for both species has been proceeding through a similar process, therefore we will continue to work with our partners to secure new markets for Welsh meat.”