After the meeting, O’Neill said: "I understand the disappointment industry feels that we have been unable to secure access to export our pork to China despite the significant efforts I, and my officials, have made. I am however buoyed by the recent agreement by the Chinese government that approving the north is also a priority for them. We have moved swiftly on this commitment asking that the Chinese schedule their visit to the north in late January. We await their advice on this proposal.
"I know industry have worked closely with my officials to ensure they meet the strict Chinese standards, this has meant we can confidently host a visit at very short notice."
Concluding, the minister added: "Of course, China is not the only market of interest to our pork industry. I am committed to continuing the momentum on negotiations for a number of other markets, including Australia, for which we are planning to host an inspection this year. I hope that securing these new markets will aid industry in achieving the ambitious export growth targets set out in going for growth."
In order to be approved to export to China, the Chinese Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA) must audit interested premises in the north to confirm they meet their export standards. This inspection forms part of the overall negotiation process and following a successful outcome premises are added to the approved exporters list.