BEIJING HAS paved the way for imports of British pigmeat after officially recognising that the UK is now free of classical swine fever.
The Chinese market has been closed to British pig products since 2000, following an outbreak of CSF in East Anglia.
But the UK has never directly exported significant volumes to the country, and Mick Sloyan of the Meat and Livestock Commission said he hoped this would prove a turning point.
It was the culmination of work by the British Pig Executive, DEFRA, and the British Embassy in Beijing, he said.
“The value of offal and other parts of the pig not normally eaten in Britain could be worth as much as £2.50 an animal to UK producers.”
The next steps are negotiations between Defra and the Chinese authorities on protocols and export health certificates for breeding pigs, genetics, pork and pork products.
BPEX Chairman Stewart Houston said: “This is excellent news. We still have a long way to go to the day when trade with China can start, but it is getting closer.
“We will continue to work with Defra and the CBBC to ensure we get access to this huge and valuable market as soon as possible.”
China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of pork products, and despite limited access to its market, imports of pork and breeding pigs topped £67m in 2003.