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Canadian beef exports to China are set to rise following certification for a further four of Canada’s processing plants.

Chinese officials have given the green light to the beef processors as part of a 2011 trade agreement that saw Canada become the first BSE-affected country to export beef to China. The two countries, which already trade strongly in agricultural commodities, have agreed on a “staged market access approach” for beef.

“This important step sets the stage to further trade opportunities in China for our beef producers,” said Canada’s agriculture minister, Gerry Ritz.

Trade body Canada Beef Inc estimates that Canadian cattle and beef exports to China will be worth C$110m annually once full market access is achieved, although no timeline was provided. Exports are worth around $20m currently.

“We look forward to continuing to grow our trade relationship with China to ensure it is balanced and produces clear wins for Canadian workers and businesses,” said Canada’s international trade minister, Ed Fast.

The four beef processing plants approved for export by Chinese officials are:

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