O’Neill to head to China for negotiations

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland -  23rd December 2014 - Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. 'Michelle O'Neill with other Sinn Fein leaders during a press conference at Parliament Buildings, Stormont after todays Northern Ireland talks concluded.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 23rd December 2014 - Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. 'Michelle O'Neill with other Sinn Fein leaders during a press conference at Parliament Buildings, Stormont after todays Northern Ireland talks concluded.

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has announced her intention to visit China at the beginning of June to progress trade negotiations.

The Minister pointed out that relationship building is a key component in agreeing terms to trade with China.

She said her planned visit in June will maintain the momentum on trade negotiations that she and her officials have made following previous trips there.

The Minister added: “It is important to visit China to thank them for undertaking the important inspections of our processors earlier this month as this is a key step in approving the north to export pork.

“Our industry, in the Agri-Food strategy Going for Growth, has identified China as a key strategic trade partner across a range of agriculture commodities given it offers the opportunity for significantly growing our exports. Therefore I also intend to use my visit to maintain momentum on the other export negotiations afoot.”

Concluding the Minister said: “I am delighted that my efforts to date secured the long awaited approval inspections of our pork processors. Although negotiations to open the market for other meat exports will be lengthy, I am confident that through my continued engagement with the Chinese government I can build on our successes to date and reinforce the importance we place on trading with China.”

Two separate Chinese delegations visited Northern Ireland in April.

An inspection on 17 April audited pig trotter production standards with a view to adding such fifth quarter to the commodities eligible for export to China. A second visit from 26-28 April assessed the province’s pig processors as part of the approval process to enable them to export pig meat to China. The outcome of the inspections is awaited.

Arrangements for the Minister’s mission to China are ongoing.