It is understood that China is set to cut the tariffs for the majority of its trading partners, according to the Irish Independent, which will be a welcome boost for the Irish agriculture industry.
China is the world’s second largest economy and is already Ireland’s third biggest market for agri-food export, and has the potential to increase trade in the aftermath of Brexit.
Last year Irish agri-food exports exceeded €13 billion in 2017, an 18% growth on 2016’s figure, with half of the growth seen in new overseas sales from non-EU markets, as the value of Irish exports to Great Britain decreased by €134 million, or 10%, in the first quarter of 2018.
Beijing announced that it plans to cut its average tariff rate on imported goods as soon as next month, according to individuals familiar with the matter.
The move is believed to be in response to the increasing number of US sanctions on trade to China, with the country now looking to lower costs for its consumers as the trade war deepens.
Not much detail is given about the reductions, only that tariff cuts were announced last week by Premier Li Keqiang.
The two people who spoke to the Irish Independent asked to remain anonymous as the matter ‘is not yet public’.
It was said, however, that any cuts implemented would be of benefit to the agri-food sector “if and when implemented”.
"By further cutting import taxes, China is sending a message that it will keep opening up and reform no matter how the trade war goes," said Tommy Xie, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp in Singapore.
“It’s more like a commitment to both domestic and international audiences. It's a gesture.”
China has become one of Ireland’s largest recipients of beef and dairy products, following a trade mission and subsequent agreement before the summer.
Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, led a large delegation of Irish food industry representatives on a weeklong trade mission to China and Hong Kong on May 14th.
There, he helped ABP secure an exclusive three-year agreement valued at €50 million, with Asian restaurant chain Wowprime Corporation, to supply beef to its restaurants across China.
This month, Bord Bia confirmed that the first 25-tonne container of Irish beef arrived in China from ABP to Chinese import company Beijing Hopewise.
© 2018 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Aidan O’Sullivan. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.