HL Deb 27 June 1996 vol 573 cc71-3WA
Lord Hooson

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which countries outside the European Union have banned the importation of British beef in the course of the past eight years; the date in each case when the ban was imposed; the reasons given for the imposition of the ban; and what representations Her Majesty's Government made to these countries and when.

Lord Lucas

Commission Decision 96/239/EC of 27th March 1996 provided that the UK shall not export from its territory meat and meat products obtained from bovine animals slaughtered in the UK. The list of countries outside the European Union given below, shows those countries with a ban on imports of British beef on the day before the introduction of the Commission Decision. The month and year when the bans commenced are shown where available.

Importing country Date of ban
Algeria June 1990
Argentina August 1991
Bulgaria September 1994
Canada March 1996
China October 1990
Iran June 1990
Iraq October 1994
Jamaica September 1991
Japan July 1990
Jordan September 1990
Kazakhstan (CIS) August 1993
Libya November 1990
Lithuania April 1995
Philippines October 1994
Russian Federation September 1993
Saudi Arabia September 1990
Switzerland June 1990
Syria August 1990
Taiwan February 1990
United Arab Emirates August 1990

The US has not accepted imports of bone in beef from Britain since 1989. After 1989, negotiations concentrated on securing access to US markets for boneless beef, which were successfully concluded in July 1994. Negotiations continue on securing wider access to the US markets, although in regular discussions with representatives of industry the US has not been identified as a priority market for the export of beef.

The following countries have introduced, but subsequently lifted, a ban during the period in question:

  • Chile
  • Cyprus
  • Egypt
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • State of Sarawak (Malaysia)
  • Mauritius
  • Morocco
  • Oman
  • Poland
  • Qatar
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey

Details of the specific reasons given for the introduction of these bans, and of the representations made by the UK Government in respect of individual countries, could only be provided at disproportionate cost. However, we have pressed our case strongly with the authorities concerned, in an effort to persuade them to lift these restrictions on trade, based on the scientific evidence available from the WHO and others that there is no human health hazard arising from the consumption of UK beef.

Responsibility for pursuing action through the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to secure the removal of unjustified BSE-related restrictions on UK exports and on those of other EU member states rests exclusively with the European Commission (as with all matters relating to trade outside the EU). Action has already been started by the Commission against certain countries who have imposed bans on dairy products from various EU member states.