The Chinese Government has agreed to accept beef imports from the UK after lifting a ban that was imposed on beef products in 1996.

The agreement between the two countries is expected to be worth £230m for British producers in the first five years.

The UK-China Beef Protocol agreement was signed by Farming Minister Robert Goodwill and the Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming as part of the tenth Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD).

The protocol is said to be the culmination of several years of site inspections and engagement between the UK and Chinese Government officials.

As per the terms of the agreement, UK-based producers will be able to access Chinese beef market by the end of this year.

UK International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox said: “Today’s step is welcome progress for our world-leading British beef producers, who will soon be able to export their products to one of the world’s largest economies, supporting local jobs and bringing millions of pounds to the UK economy each year.

“This comes as a result of years of hard work across government, including at the Department for International Trade, and marks the next step in realising our global trading ambitions with unbeatable British food.

“As we leave the European Union, we will continue to break down market access barriers to make it easier for UK businesses to trade across the world.”

The announcement followed an inspection hosted by Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, the Food Standards Agency, DAERA in Northern Ireland, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and the UK Export Certification Partnership (UKECP), in conjunction with beef farmers and food business operators.

Last June, China announced it would lift the ban on beef imports from the UK that was originally imposed as a result of an outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, more than 20 years ago.