The deal, estimated to be worth £240m over five years, would give producers increased flexibility on sourcing the dairy they use in their products. It also holds the potential for producers in Northern Ireland to export products made with milk from across the border.
It comes as demand for dairy in China grew by more than 20% last year and has become one of the country’s fastest-growing areas of food demand. The UK alone exported more than £96m of dairy products to the country last year.
Fox secured the deal during a meeting with China’s General Administration of Customs today (Thursday 23 August).
Commenting on his visit, 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.
‘Liberalise international trade’
“As an international economic department, the Department of International Trade 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.”
The announcement followed the Chancellor’s visit to China in June, which saw the ban on UK exports of beef to the market lifted, in a deal worth £250m.
Environmental secretary Michael Gove added: “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 EU.”
Richard Burn, Her Majesty’s trade commissioner for China, said that while the appetite for UK produce was strong, there was still untapped potential across all food and drink categories.
Meanwhile, members of the food and drink industry have responded to the Government’s new export strategy published this week, which described the UK’s potential to become an “exporting superpower”.
Seize export opportunities
Food and Drink Federation chief executive Ian Wright said the publication was an important step in helping businesses to understand and seize the opportunities that exporting provided.
Mike Thornton, head of manufacturing at consultancy RSM, said the strategy was a combination of codifying existing government support together with some new initiatives.
“However, it seems a little light regarding the latter, particularly when it comes to the important topic of finance. Selling products overseas offers big benefits to UK manufacturers, but it can also carry significant risk, so many SMEs would welcome direct government support.
“The export strategy is a good starting point, but perhaps a more ambitious way forward can be established once we leave the rule of the EU.”