China has lifted its 20-year-long ban on beef imports from the UK, which is now estimated to be worth £250 million in the first five years for British producers.
The Chinese government first imposed a ban on British beef in the wake of the BSE outbreak.
China is currently the UK’s eighth largest export market for agri-food, with over £560 million worth of food and drink bought by Chinese consumers last year.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “This is fantastic news for our world-class food and farming industry and shows we can be a truly outward looking Britain outside the European Union.
“It is the result of painstaking and collaborative work by industry and the Defra team over many years.”
He added: “Today’s milestone will help to unlock UK agriculture’s full potential and is a major step to forging new trading relationships around the globe.”
Food exports from the UK continue to soar with record exports of over £22 billion in 2017, with UK food and drink businesses now selling their products in 217 markets.
Today’s announcement will allow official market access negotiations to begin, a process which typically takes around three years.
AHDB International Market Development Director Dr Phil Hadley said: “We are delighted that China has lifted the ban on UK beef.
“This marks an important milestone in growing our meat exports to this all-important market.”
He added: “Today’s news follows years of collaboration between AHDB, government and industry to make this a reality and we now look forward to seeing UK beef exported to the country for the first time in over 20 years.
“We will now begin the work on the export protocols and approvals to allow commercial shipments to begin.”