While Irish beef is still awaiting access to the Chinese market after being suspended in May 2020, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has emphasised there is ongoing dialogue.

Department officials, through the Embassy of Ireland in Beijing, continue to engage with their Chinese counterparts with a view to reopening market access for Irish beef.

“I very much hope that trade will resume soon, but we must recognise that the timing of that decision lies with the Chinese authorities,” Minister McConalogue said.

Trade events

In recent days, a series of virtual trade engagements with existing and potential Chinese customers were led by the Minister and Minister of State with special responsibility for new market development Martin Heydon.

Minister McConalogue noted that both he and Minister Heydon had recently had a virtual meeting with China’s Ambassador to Ireland, Ambassador He, at which a number of market access and trade issues were raised.

China is now Ireland’s fourth-largest agri-food export destination

Approximately one third of Ireland’s total food and drink exports were destined for international markets outside of Europe in 2020.

China is now Ireland’s fourth-largest agri-food export destination, with exports valued at over €872m last year.

For Irish exports of dairy and pigmeat, it is the second-largest market.


“In normal times, my Department and Bord Bia would lead at least one trade mission to China every year, and I am hopeful that an in-person trade mission to China will be possible before the end of this year,” Minister McConalogue said.

Minister Heydon said: “China is a critical market for the Irish food industry, with growth driven by the reputation of Ireland as a safe and sustainable producer of high-quality food and drink. In addition to dairy, meat and seafood, China is also showing promise as a market for Irish spirit drinks.”