UK – Britain has finalized a £230 million (US$298million) beef trade agreement with China, in a deal that will allow four sites in the UK, located in Northern Ireland and England to export beef to China over the next five years.

The deal marks the end of a 20-year ban on UK beef exports to China that was imposed following a Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) outbreak.

In June this year, UK and China signed a protocol agreement after a series of inspections and inward missions hosted by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in partnership with the Department for Environment.

Other institution involved included Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) among other industry bodies including UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Sealing this landmark agreement with China is huge news for our world-renowned food and farming industry, meaning more people across the globe can enjoy British beef.​

“[This] milestone marks another step towards unlocking the industry’s full potential, and reflects our ambition to maximise trading opportunities for British produce across the world as the UK leaves the EU.”​

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss added: ​Chinese diners can now enjoy the best beef in the world.

“I’m delighted that our dedicated UK producers can now sell quality products to one of the world’s largest economies, supporting local jobs and bringing millions of pounds to the UK economy each year.​

“This is another step forward in realising our global trading ambitions with unbeatable British food. As we leave the European Union, we will continue to break down market access barriers to make it easier for UK businesses to trade across the world.”​

According to Hadley Global Meat News update, AHDB international market development director Dr Phil Hadley noted that the timing of the agreement had nothing to do with Brexit negotiations between the UK and EU nor the rise in African Swine Fever in China.

The first shipments from Britain to China are expected to arrive by the end of 2019.