DUBLIN, April 16 (Xinhua) -- Ireland will start exporting beef to China very shortly, announced the Irish agriculture minister on Monday.
The announcement was made by Michael Creed, Minister for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), in a press release posted on the DAFM website.
He said that DAFM will complete the final technicalities to allow the export to commence in the coming weeks.
With the commencement of the Irish beef exports to China, Ireland will become one of the first European Union (EU) countries to gain the access to the Chinese beef market which was closed for the beef exports from the EU about 17 years ago following a breakout of mad cow disease in Europe.
In early 2016, Hungary became the first EU member state allowed to export beef to China.
Creed viewed the opening of the Chinese beef market for Ireland as "an excellent opportunity" for the Irish beef sector.
He said that opening and developing new markets is a key part of the Irish government's response to the uncertainties arising from Brexit.
"Our agri-food exports to China have increased roughly five-fold from around 200 million euros (about 247 million U.S. dollars ) to nearly one billion euros last year," said Creed, adding that "this has been a remarkable achievement and underlines the importance of the Chinese market".
According to the DAFM, China's consumption for quality imported beef is expected to rise significantly, driven by increasing urbanization, higher disposable incomes and health awareness. (1 euro=1.238 U.S. dollars)