O’Neill clear on agenda for China visit

Minister Michelle O'Neill
Minister Michelle O'Neill

Northern Ireland’s Agriculture Minister has said she is determined to get a good deal for Northern Ireland’s pork producers following a trade mission to China.

Michelle O’Neill travels to Beijing tomorrow to champion the region’s pork industry.

The week-long visit will include meetings with high ranking government officials, food experts and agriculture academics.

Ms O’Neill said: “China is a vital market for our exports.

“It is expected to become the world’s leading consumer of pigmeat on a per capita basis, surpassing the European Union, by 2022.”

It will be the third trip the minister has made to China having visited Beijing and Shanghai in 2012 and 2013.

Relationships between Noerthern Ireland and Chinese officials have been steadily built up in recent years.

As part of the trip Ms O’Neill is also expected to visit a local farm to increase her understanding of agriculture development in the country.

She added: “I am committed to helping our pork industry gain a market share of this lucrative market and that is why it is important for me to meet Chinese officials to progress these negotiations on behalf of our pork processors and coldstores.

“In addition to my market access negotiations, I also hope to continue to develop the close working relationship between the north and China in terms of the agricultural, technical, scientific and educational exchanges which are valued by both sides.

“It is my ambition that deeper relations with our Chinese partners will deliver benefits for a range of agricultural and rural interests in the north.”

While on the mission the minister said she would also be pushing in an effort to achieve greater access for Northern Ireland’s beef and chicken exporters .