Chinese and British officials say they are set to end the 23-year ban on British beef in China. The ban has been in effect since 1996 due to an outbreak of the fatal neurodegenerative condition bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which led to the death of 180,000 cows and more than 150 people in Britain.
Liu Xiaoming, China's ambassador to the UK, and Robert Goodwill, the United Kingdom's minister of state at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, signed the UK-China Beef Protocol in London on Monday during the 10th UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue.
While both nations must finalize a standard health certificate to accompany shipments, the United Kingdom believes the deal could be worth $290 million for British famers over the next five years.
"This is a major coup for our world-class food and farming industry," Goodwill said. "Today's milestone reflects our ambition to maximize new trading opportunities across the world and become a truly global Britain as we leave the European Union."
China began the process of lifting its import ban on British beef last February, and this year Chinese officials completed a series of inspections of meat-processing plants and other facilities in the UK.
The timing of the trade deal is significant as the UK heads towards October 31, the current Brexit deadline. The European Union lifted its ban on British beef in 2006, with the United States following in 2016.