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China, EU Discuss Food, Drink Exports in Argyll & Bute

SCOTLAND, EU and CHINA - High level delegations from Beijing and Brussels visited a salmon farm and a whisky distillery in Argyll & Bute as part of discussions to further develop a unique agreement on quality food and drink products between China and Europe.

Representatives from the Peoples Republic of China and the European Commission, including Mr Chenggang Li, Director General in the China Ministry of Commerce and John Clarke, Director for Agriculture International Affairs in the European Commission discussed enhancing an agreement that recognises and protects products with EU Protected Geographical Indications (PGI) in China, which already benefits Scottish Farmed Salmon.

Scottish Farmed Salmon was included in the initial prestigious top 10 of quality food and drink products chosen from a then list of over 750 European products in a pilot project between China and the European Commission that was agreed in 2007. The granting by China of the special status to the ten European food products was matched by the EC conferring similar legal protection for ten Chinese foods.

Host for the visit to Loch Creran salmon farm, Lawrie Stove, Export Manager, Scottish Sea Farms said: It was a pleasure to showcase Scottish Farmed Salmon to our visitors from Beijing and Brussels. As the European Commission now recognises over 3,000 food and drink products, it is great recognition for Scottish Farmed Salmon to be selected in the top 10 products in the unique quality food and drink agreement between Europe and China.

Our visitors really enjoyed seeing the glistening silver appearance of the fish and the pristine coastal waters. The PGI status for Scottish Farmed Salmon has enhanced the integrity of our products from Argyll & Bute and the expert husbandry skills developed over the last thirty-forty years, he added.

European Commission Director John Clarke said: "This visit was a great opportunity to illustrate the enormous work done by both Scottish Farmed Salmon and Scotch Whisky associations, ensuring produce respects traditions while complying with the highest quality standards, thus meeting the demand from our important trade partners like China. We hope this visit will lead to more European geographical indication products being recognised in China."

Professor Phil Thomas, Chairman of Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation, said: The unique agreement has helped to develop the Chinese market for Scottish Farmed Salmon. China is a growing international opportunity for the fine foods for which Scotland is renowned. The unique agreement is a positive start to a potentially wider collaboration between Scotland, Europe and China.

Scotland Food and Drink set a new ambition to grow the value of food and drink exports to 7.1 billion by 2017. The international trade visit may help to deliver these objectives.

Four thousand three hundred tonnes of Scottish salmon (fresh, frozen and smoked products) with a value of over 23million were exported to the fast growing Chinese market in 2011, the first year that direct exports were permitted.

Direct Scotch Whisky exports to China were valued at 66million in 2011, up from 55million the previous year. Total Scotch Whisky exports to China totalled approximately 100million in 2011.

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