China has lifted a three-year ban on Brazilian beef imports into the country.

The Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is on a visit to the South American country where he and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff signed trade, finance and investment deals worth tens of billions of dollars, Reuters says.

It reports that eight Brazilian beef processing plants and one poultry plant were approved to ship to China.

Some 17 more processing plants are expected to be approved in June when the Brazilian Agriculture Minister Katia Abreu visits China, it says.

China has been Brazil’s largest trade partner since 2009, accounting for 18% of the country’s foreign trade, the Chinese government says.

The 26 plants represent $520m of potential sales to China and in 2014 Brazil exported $7.2 billion alone worth of beef, it says.

Reuters reports that the US is expected to lift a ban to allow fresh Brazilian beef be imported to the US by late June when President Rousseff visits Washington.

The World Animal Health Organisation has maintained Brazil's status as a country with an insignificant risk of mad cow disease, which caused other countries like Japan and South Korea to ban imports of fresh beef from Brazil since 2012, it says.

Brazil already exports chicken and pork to China, Reuters says.