OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- Canada has secured a breakthrough agreement with China to allow staged market access for beef and tallow, becoming the first country to resume trade with China following a case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). The Right Honourable Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan witnessed the signing of the Cooperative Arrangement yesterday following meetings with the Chinese delegation led by President Hu.

"This is tremendous news for Canadian beef producers as access to the rapidly growing Chinese market means significant market advantage and a better bottom line for Canadian producers," said Minister Ritz. "We have the consistency, safety and quality that China is looking for. What we have accomplished today recognizes our mutual interests, strong partnership and trade relationship based on sound science."

The agreement with China provides the foundation for a staged approach to full market access for Canadian beef and beef products. The first step includes access to the Chinese market for boneless beef derived from animals under 30 months of age and tallow for industrial use.

"This historic agreement will mean more opportunity for Canadian farmers, and the businesses that serve them -- from small storeowners to big transportation businesses," said Minister Van Loan. "I'm pleased China has joined a growing list of countries that accept our science-based argument that Canadian beef is safe."

According to estimates by the Canada Beef Export Federation (CBEF), the Chinese market for Canadian beef and tallow is expected to be worth $110 million once full market access is achieved.

Since 2007, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has officially categorized Canada as a controlled BSE risk country. This designation allows for the safe trade in all beef and cattle under specified conditions, which Canada meets. Canada is the first BSE-affected country to resume trade in beef with China.

SOURCE: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.