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French beef producers cheer chance for return to China

AFP  |  Paris 

French producers have hailed a deal reached by and his Chinese counterpart to end China's 2001 embargo on French

The accord, which would allow French producers back into the huge Chinese market within six months, came as made a three-day visit to the country, his first destination in as France's

The ban was imposed over a decade ago as started closing off its markets to all European and later US in the wake of the "mad cow" disease scare.

has been working for years to promote the safety of its meat and open new markets for its ranchers, who were hit hard by the "mad cow" scare of the 1990s.

"Our currently has no access (to China) for sanitary reasons. But with French consumption falling five percent a year, we have to find new markets," Bruno Le Maire, who is travelling with

"It will allow for higher prices that will better compensate cattle ranchers," he said.

is rapidly becoming more common on Chinese tables as the middle class expands, with imported meat particularly prized.

"Excellent for France's producers, who consider the potential of the Chinese market a strategic opportunity," the Interbev producers' association said in a statement yesterday.

Its president, Dominique Langlois, is part of the delegation of about 50 business leaders who joined for his trip.

Interbev said is the second-largest importer of beef, at nearly 1.1 million tons a year.

The average inhabitant eats four kilogrammes (8.8 pounds) each year, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Ninety per cent of China's currently come from Brazil, Uruguay, and

Several countries have dropped their import bans against French in recent years, including the United States, which again opened its market last year after imposing a ban in 1998.

French producers could nonetheless find a tough market to crack.

"There is market share for to take in China," said Jean-Marc Chaumet, an who specialises in at the in

"But it won't be an Eldorado. It will be hard and take time, because will be entering a very competitive market already open to the US, Uruguay, and Australia," he said.

"And they'll need to invest, because the Chinese don't know about French beef," Chaumet added.

Beyond beef, French officials said talks were continuing about China's ban on French poultry, imposed in 2015 after an outbreak of bird flu.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, January 10 2018. 10:00 IST