Japan drops ban and opens market to British beef and lamb

Japan drops ban and opens market to British beef and lamb
Credit: Shutterstock.com/ Salvador Aznar

Japan has opened its market to imports of UK lamb and beef in a deal worth almost £130 million over the first five years.

The agreement, signed during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent visit to the UK, sees Japan lift its twenty-year ban on imports of beef and lamb imposed during the BSE crisis.

Exports are now being welcome to help meet growing domestic demand for beef and lamb.

The market opening for lamb is poised to be especially advantageous for farmers in Wales, where lamb accounts for a third of total food and drink exports.

According to Alun Cairns, Secretary of State for Wales, the deal “brings even greater opportunities for Welsh farmers to market their produce around the world”.

The lifting of the ban is the fruit of a long labour which included visits and negotiations between UK and Japanese officials.

This culminated in an inspection of UK beef and lamb production systems in 2018 and paved the way for this new deal.

Japan is well-known for its stringent food safety and import controls regime with UK Government saying that the opening of this market will send “positive signals” to other counties regarding the safety of UK exports.

“The opening of the Japanese market is an excellent result for beef and lamb producers across the UK and demonstrates confidence in our high standards of food and drink,” said Food Minister George Eustice.

“As we enter a new era as a global exporter, unlocking this market marks a major step for future trading relationships and signals our commitment to supporting our food and drink industry to export more British food.”

The deal follows a year of global successes for UK exporters, which included China lifting its ban on UK beef, Taiwan opening its market to pork and India preparing to import UK sheep meat.