Commissioner of Agriculture Promotes EU Beef in China

Tue, 22 May 2018

CHINA - China could shortly allow imports of beef from France, Germany and the Netherlands, which have been under embargo for almost 17 years, according to the EU Commissioner of Agriculture Phil Hogan, Yicai.com reported.

According to Chinese industry authorities, the country sees a supply shortage of 8 million tons of beef per year. That's more than the total annual output of beef in the EU, Mr Hogan said.

The commissioner recently came to China on his fifth visit of the year. He brought 70 EU companies with a total business value of €100 billion to the SIAL China International Trade Fair for Food, held in Shanghai earlier in May.

The main mission for Mr Hogan's Chinese visit was to seek out opportunities to lower the trading barrier through face-to-face negotiations with Chinese commerce officials.

China recently opened its market to beef from Ireland, the first EU country to benefit. So far, three Irish beef factories have been approved to enter the Chinese market, and five others are awaiting approval.

Mr Hogan said he came to China with high expectations from EU meat dealers, who regard the Chinese market as a great potential. Statistics indicate that there is much room for per-person consumption growth in China, Mr Hogan explained.

In 2017, meat consumption in China was 71 million tons, more than the total of the EU and the US. However, consumption per person in China was 50.3 kilograms, less than the US consumption of 98.6 kg and the EU consumption of 69.6kg, Mr Hogan disclosed.

EU exports of agricultural products to China have doubled over the last five years, he said, believing the growth rate will be maintained and even doubled in the years to come.

China announced a ban of beef imports from European countries due to the outbreak of "mad cow disease" in 2001. Over the past 17 years, the country has grown to become the second largest beef importer in the world.

Last year, China imported 700,000 tons of beef worth $3.3 billion, an increase of 20 per cent from the previous year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

The EU has been working for years to ensure its meat is safe. The commissioner emphasized that EU beef is safe and the cattle are traceable to their birth farm.

No cases of mad cow disease have been reported since 2005, Mr Hogan said. The EU has carried out reform on food security, worked to ensure that the products are highly traceable, and built individual identification and country of origin labeling.

He disclosed that health and verification checks were being carried out by the Chinese side to finalize the lifting of the embargo and advances will be seen shortly.