Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has written to his Chinese counterpart, requesting an immediate lifting of the suspension of Irish beef exports to China.

On Wednesday, it was revealed that Brazilian beef exports to China had resumed.

The resumption of Irish beef exports to China remains a high priority objective, the Department of Agriculture has said.

“Significant efforts to reopen the market have been made through official, technical, diplomatic and political channels over the last 19 months and there is ongoing contact with the Chinese authorities on the matter.

“The matter has been raised at the highest political levels, including by An Taoiseach with the Chinese Premier, by the Minister for Foreign Affairs with his counterpart, and by Minister McConalogue with his counterpart the [General Administration of Customs] GACC minister on numerous occasions.

'No indication'

“There is no indication of any technical or scientific basis for the continued suspension of Irish beef exports.

“It is also noted that Ireland now has ‘negligible risk’ status for BSE,” the Department said.

Minister McConalogue and Minister of State Martin Heydon, who has specific responsibility for new market development, will continue to “utilise every available option for dialogue” with the Chinese authorities, in collaboration with the Embassy of Ireland in Beijing, to press the case for a restoration of beef access as a matter of urgency.

However, the Department added that it must be recognised that the timing of the decision to resume trade remains a matter for the Chinese authorities.


On Wednesday, it was announced that after being suspended for over three months, Brazilian beef was cleared for export to China.

Brazilian beef exports were suspended in September, following the confirmation of two cases of atypical BSE in the country.

Ireland has been locked out of the Chinese market since May 2020 following an atypical case here.

Almost a year after that case was identified, Ireland was recognised as having a negligible risk for BSE, the lowest country risk status possible.

Irish exports

As reported by the Irish Farmers Journal 7,500t of Irish beef was exported to China in early 2020, before the suspension, and exports were picking up pace.

Brazil is the biggest exporter of beef in the world and between January and September 2021, Brazil had exported 683,480t of beef to China.