LA PAZ, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- Bolivia made its first-ever shipment of beef to China this week, dispatching 96 tons of boneless frozen beef on Wednesday.
"It is an Aug. 28 that we will always remember. It is a historic date, because we are exporting beef to the Chinese market," said Bolivian President Evo Morales at the ceremony for launching the delivery.
The president and Chinese Ambassador to Bolivia Liang Yu together cut the ribbon on the four containers of beef at the ceremony.
Held in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, capital of eastern Santa Cruz Department, the ceremony was also attended by cattle ranchers, business owners, lawmakers, local authorities and special guests.
Morales praised the efforts of Chinese and Bolivian governments and business sectors in making exports to China a reality after months of negotiations and reviews.
Liang highlighted the efficiency of the Bolivian livestock sector, saying the first shipment was ready just two months after the two sides signed sanitary protocols for beef exports.
"It has been a great honor to witness this historic and exciting moment of the first shipment of beef exports from Bolivia to China," Liang said in a speech.
China is Bolivia's second largest trading partner and the Chinese market represents great trade potential for Bolivian products, said Liang.
The diplomat also confirmed support for multilateralism, and criticized unilateral policies that use trade tariffs as a political tool.
China also has purchase agreements with Bolivia for its quinoa, coffee, and soy.
Currently, Bolivian cattle ranchers export meat to Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia and Vietnam, but China, with a population of nearly 1.4 billion, is an untapped market for the productive sector.
President of Bolivia's Confederation of Cattle Ranchers (Congabol), Oscar Pereyra, urged the country's beef producers to make the most of China's opening up.
"I call on all cattle-ranchers: this is our great opportunity to work effectively in this important market. There is opportunity for everyone," Pereyra said.
The goal is to make Bolivia one of the world's top 15 beef exporting countries, he added.
Bolivia is home to 10 million heads of cattle, an equivalent of 260,000 tons of beef. Santa Cruz is the country's leading producer, accounting for 43 percent of the total production, followed by Beni in the north with 31 percent.
The short-to-medium-term outlook for Bolivia's beef exports is "excellent" because the business sector and the government have joined forces to energize international trade, Pereyra said.