Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said his Department will work to have the Chinese market reopened as “promptly as possible” for Irish beef exports.

Beef exports to China have been suspended after a case of atypical BSE was identified in a 10-year-old cow at a knackery.

“This animal wasn’t destined for the Chinese market. It’s not something we expect to have an impact in relation to wider exports,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Wednesday.

“[We] will work to have it reopened as promptly as possible. We had a similar case three years ago. In Ireland, we identify them because our testing is so strict.

“The Chinese market was the only one of 70 markets where this case will [have an] impact.

“We only got the Chinese market opened for the first time in 2019 and we built up the market,” he said, adding that in 2020 Ireland was in a similar situation, after China introduced a ban following an isolated atypical BSE case.

It took three years for the market to reopen to Irish beef exports.

Same process

“We’ve to go through the same process again. I’d be hoping on the basis that we’ve come through this process very recently that it won’t take the same time again.

“It’s not a decision for us. It’s not within our gift, it’s a matter for the Chinese government to decide,” he said.

The Minister was in South Korea last week, seeking access to that market for beef access.

When asked if Ireland would sign a similar protocol with Korea regarding atypical BSE cases, the Minister said: “That’s something we’d have to finalise with the South Korean government.”