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January 11, 2018

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Lifting of beef ban hailed by French

FRENCH beef producers have hailed a deal reached by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to end China’s 2001 embargo on French beef.

The accord would allow French producers back into the huge Chinese market within six months.

The ban was imposed over a decade ago as China started closing off its markets to all European and later American beef imports in the wake of the “mad cow” disease scare.

Paris has been working for years to promote the safety of its meat and open new markets for its ranchers, who were hit hard by the “mad cow” scare of the 1990s.

“Our beef currently has no access (to China) for sanitary reasons. But with French beef consumption falling 5 percent a year, we have to find new markets,” said Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, who was traveling with Macron.

“It will allow for higher prices that will better compensate cattle ranchers,” the French minister added.

Beef is rapidly becoming more common on Chinese tables as the middle class expands, with imported meat particularly prized.

“Excellent news for France’s beef producers, who consider the potential of the Chinese market a strategic opportunity,” the Interbev producers’ association said.

Interbev said China imports nearly 1.1 million tons of beef a year.

Ninety percent of China’s imports currently come from Brazil, Uruguay, Australia and New Zealand.

“There is market share for France to take in China,” said Jean-Marc Chaumet, an economist who specializes in China at the French Livestock Institute in Paris.

“But it won’t be an Eldorado. It will be hard and take time, because France will be entering a very competitive market already open to the US, Uruguay, Canada and Australia,” he said.

“And they’ll need to invest, because the Chinese don’t know about French beef,” Chaumet added.

French officials also said talks were continuing about China’s ban on French poultry, imposed in 2015 after an outbreak of bird flu.


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