International trade secretary Dr Liam Fox MP met with China’s general administration of customs today (Thursday 23 August) to reach an agreement to allow the import of UK dairy products made with milk from third countries.
The agreement is estimated to be worth £240m over five years to the UK. The UK exported over £96m of dairy products to China last year, and there has been significant interest in the market following the prime minister and Dr Fox’s visit earlier this year.
Imports into China of products such as yoghurt, flavoured milk and cheese have seen rapid growth as Chinese consumers increasingly associate these items with nutrition and wellbeing. The demand for most dairy categories in the country is growing by more than 20% each year.
This deal means that producers will have increased flexibility on sourcing the dairy they use for their products.
The UK government is determined to open up agricultural opportunities to British businesses, and the new deal follows the chancellor’s visit to China where he announced a lifting of a two-decades long ban on beef. The deal was expected to be worth £250m.
Fox said: “This is my fourth visit to China this year and I’m delighted to see the completion of this deal, bringing significant benefits to dairy producers across the UK at a time when British food and drink exports are at a record high.
“China is the UK’s fifth largest trading partner, with exports growing by 28.5% in 2017 when compared with the previous year.”
He added: “As an international economic department, DIT is working with our partners across the world to liberalise international trade by removing barriers to commerce, helping businesses and ensuring greater choice for consumers worldwide. Today’s announcement will boost our £67.5bn trading relationship even further.”
Environment secretary Michael Gove MP added: “Our world-class dairy producers already export £1.7bn worth of produce per year. This milestone will help to unlock the UK food and drink industry’s full potential forging new trading relationships around the globe. This step shows we can be a truly outward looking Britain outside the European Union.”