O’Neill Hails Successful China Visit

Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill today returned from her visit to China following a series of meetings with key Government officials in China to discuss and progress a range of issues for the agricultural sector of the North.

The Minister outlined the progress she has achieved on the negotiations with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) to approve the export of pork from the north to China. She said: “I held positive and constructive discussions with AQSIQ to thank them for their recent inspection visits to the North and to maintain momentum on the approval process. I conveyed the importance the pork producers of the north place on accessing the Chinese market for their traceable, safe, wholesome and high quality produce. AQSIQ confirmed that they were impressed by our standards of pork production and that they would work hard to complete our report very soon. They also thanked me for coming to meet them in Beijing.”

dn_screenFollowing the meeting with AQSIQ, Minister O’Neill held discussions with key agricultural figures based in Beijing including the Vice-President of the Chinese Agricultural University and representatives from Chinese industry. She said: “While my overarching strategic objective is to enhance the North of Ireland-China relationship by fostering opportunities for gain for the North in the agri-product and agri-food sector, I welcomed this opportunity to develop contacts with senior CAU academics who have influence in the spheres of agriculture, science and agricultural education. Such linkages will work to facilitate the exchange of scientific knowledge and education which will deepen bonds and deliver real results for the people of China and the north of Ireland. I also met with COFCO, China’s largest food wholesaler and a major importer of meat and dairy products to underline our high standards and discuss the priorities of local industry in the north for accessing the Chinese market.”

Minister O’Neill also took time out of her busy schedule to visit a dairy farm and discussed mutual areas of interest with Chinese industry representatives.

Minister O’Neill went on to thank the Director and the staff of the NI Bureau in Beijing for facilitating this successful mission. On her third visit to China since 2012, she also stressed the importance of face-to-face engagement by the Executive and its Ministers in enhancing relationships with key players in this growing marketplace.

General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) is a ministerial-level department under the State Council of the People’s Republic of China which is responsible for national quality, entry-exit commodity inspection, entry-exit health quarantine, entry-exit animal and plant quarantine, import-export food safety, certification and accreditation, standardization, as well as administrative law enforcement. The Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA) is an internal approval body under the jurisdiction of AQSIQ.

In order to be eligible to export, interested plants must be inspected by CNCA and AQSIQ technical experts, approved and then listed on both the AQSIQ and CNCA websites.

The Minister held a series of meetings with the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, the China Agriculture University and met with representatives of COFCO (the largest food processor and manufacturing wholesale company in China).