Australian trade authorities are confident that China will agree to accept Australian beef and lamb from six meat processing plants placed in temporary suspension on Wednesday, which was shipped prior to the suspension date of July 24.
The development is the first small, but significant step in restoring normal trade access, following Chinese regulatory concerns raised over labelling irregularities.
As discussed in this Beef Central report published yesterday, concerns were raised over the future of consignments from the six affected plants already on the water to China when the ban was announced on Wednesday. One estimate suggested the volume in this category was likely to be in the ‘hundreds’ of containers.
A similar dilemma occurred when China imposed a surprise blanket ban on chilled beef from all supplier countries in 2013, when about 1000 containers were caught-up in the trade issue.
After government to government discussions yesterday, trade minister Steve Ciobo last night suggested that Chinese authorities appeared supportive of allowing meat from the six plants sent from Australia before July 24 to be allowed into the country. Some beef consigned on, or after that date may still be exposed, however.
“Chinese authorities have indicated that meat already in containers on the water that was dispatched before 24 July will still be accepted by China,” Mr Ciobo said.
“That makes a material difference to those exporters and represents the goodwill between Australia and China,” he told media last night.
“We are able to talk these issues through.”
Discussions continue with Chinese authorities, and the minister is considering a visit to Beijing next week to further the process.
China’s regulator, AQSIQ earlier objected to a number of labelling inconsistencies on boxed beef and lamb imports from Australia. The labelling inconsistencies raised by the Chinese appear minor in nature. In one example, a single vacuum-packaged primal in one carton among a consignment of 700 cartons did not carry matching internal and external labels.
“We are making sure we do a very rapid audit of all those Australian facilities that have been affected, because we want to resolve this issue as soon as we can,” Mr Ciobo said.
“If need be, I’ll travel to China next week – we’ll just have a look at the merit of doing that. This is a major export industry for Australia and there are a lot of farmers affected.”
- Click here to view yesterday’s report. Click here to view Beef Central’s original Wednesday report, flagging the suspension.