China opens its borders to Belgian beef after 22-year embargo
After a 22-year embargo, China will again allow the import of Belgian beef, according to a statement by the Chinese customs authority. The news comes as a surprise to Belgium's meat industry.
Imports will be allowed for meat from animals under 30 months old. Imports of animals from Poland will also be allowed. According to Chinese customs documents, the measures maintained by Belgium and Poland to control BSE, also known as mad cow disease, meet Chinese requirements.
Febev, the Belgian meat industry's trade association, confirmed China's intention to open its borders. Managing director Michael Gore said this would be the first time Belgium could export beef to China.
But exports to China will not be possible immediately. "Lifting the ban means taking an important step towards reopening the market and creating opportunities for the Belgian beef industry," said Febev. "However, there are still several steps to be taken. The food safety agency FASFC is in talks with the Chinese partners to discuss the next steps. In any case, it is a positive sign that will be fleshed out in the coming months."
"Talks on the export of Belgian beef to China are in full swing, and contacts are going well," said the FASFC. "This is of course a start, and there are still several steps to take."
© BELGA PHOTO LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ