China has announced the partial lifting of an embargo on imports of French beef imposed following the BSE epidemic of the 1990s.

France’s agriculture minister Stéphane Le Fol lsaid the move will apply to boneless meat from animals under 30 months of age.

Le Foll said China’s decision comes nearly nine years after the World Organization for Animal Health designated France as having “controlled risk” status for BSE.

The French government will be “fully mobilised” in order that all conditions are met to allow a resumption of exports as soon as possible, Le Foll said.

In January, the European Commission confirmed the US had lifted a ban on imports of French beef, representing “a new stage in the reopening of a market which has been closed since the BSE epidemic”.

China said last November it had decided to remove its ban on imports of beef from the US which had been in place over concern about BSE since 2003.