London, United Kingdom (4E) – The British government announced that Russia has agreed to lift the ban on imports of British beef and lamb that lasted for 16 years.
The decision came following a visit by a British negotiating delegation headed by Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens to Moscow.
Russia has prevented British farmers to export beef to the country after the outbreak of the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in the UK in 1996. Up until now Russia has kept the ban despite it being lifted in the EU six years ago.
BSE can lead to the degenerative neurological disorder called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which currently has no cure.
The lifting of the ban could take effect in a matter days and a resolution of the issue is likely within the week, according to Russia’s food safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor .
The agency also said that Russia plans to lift meat imports from two British firms, although they did not specify which companies.
In his visit to Moscow last year, British Prime Minister David Cameron raised the issue with his Russian counterparts.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson described the latest agreement as further evidence that British producers hold high esteem in international markets.
Paterson adds that UK food exports have now topped £10bn annually, and the current government is making all effort to explore overseas markets. He also noted that food and drink exports grew by 9 per cent to £18.2bn in 2011.
The deal will be a welcome development for British farmers who are keen in penetrating the fast-growing Russian market, where they can sell from live animals to lamb and beef.