The Irish Exporters Association has welcomed the landmark trade agreement signed between the EU and China today. 

"This development will facilitate trade and intensify co-operation between Ireland and China," said Hugh Kelly, Chairman of the IEA’s Asia Trade Forum.

Under the agreement, the EU and China commit to recognising each other's certified safe traders, thereby allowing these companies to benefit from faster controls and reduced administration for customs clearance.

"Our companies trading into China can now do so with lower costs, simplified procedures and greater predictability in their activities," Mr Kelly added.

The EU is the first trading partner to enter into such an agreement with China, having already signed similar deals with the USA (2012) and Japan (2011).

EU Commissioner for Taxation and Customs, Algirdas Semeta, was at the Joint Customs Cooperation Committee (JCCC) meeting in Beijing, for the signing of the agreement.

"By agreeing to mutually recognise each other's safe traders, the EU and China are taking a big step forward in our trade relationship. 

Today's agreement is fully in the spirit of trade facilitation, by making customs procedures easier, cheaper and faster for our trusted operators", Mr Semeta said.