global trade

UK resumes US beef exports after 2-decade ban lifted

Agence France-Presse

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UK resumes US beef exports after 2-decade ban lifted

A butcher cuts beef at a shop in London on February 15, 2013. Twenty-nine beef products out of 2,501 on sale in Britain have tested positive for more horsemeat, the Food Standards Agency said on February 15, 2013. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)


After the US allowed the UK to restart beef shipments, the first batch leaves Northern Ireland on Wednesday, September 30

Britain’s first beef exports to the United States in more than 20 years left Northern Ireland on Wednesday, September 30, 6 months after Washington lifted a ban, the government said.

“This is great news for our food and farming industry, who have estimated it will bring a £66-million ($85-million, 72-million-euro) boost to beef producers over the next 5 years alone,” Environment Secretary George Eustice said.

Washington imposed restrictions on all European Union (EU) beef exports in 1998 due to concerns about mad cow disease, but has gradually eased them as it tries to negotiate a free trade deal with Brussels.

It has permitted Irish beef imports since 2015 and granted the Netherlands approval to renew its exports the following year.

Britain, which left the EU on January 31 after the 2016 Brexit vote, received permission to restart its transatlantic beef shipments in March. 

British herds were badly hit by mad cow disease – officially known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) – in the late 1980s and 1990s.

More than 4 million cows were slaughtered, then burned on huge pyres across the countryside, in an effort to contain the spread.

Eating infected beef can cause the degenerative brain condition variant Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (vCJD) in humans. In 2000, 24 people died in Britain from vCJD.

Britain is aiming to strike a free trade deal with the United States as the country tries to take advantage of life outside the EU from 2021.

Although the country formally left the bloc earlier this year, it is still abiding by EU rules in a standstill transition period until December 31.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the resumption of beef exports to the US “could be just the tip of the iceberg.”

“The free trade deal we are negotiating with the US will create a host of export opportunities for British agriculture,” she added. 

“We are seeking an ambitious and high standards agreement that benefits farmers and delivers for consumers.” –

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