HL Deb 25 June 2003 vol 650 cc27-8WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will identify the countries to which:

  1. (a) British farm and other livestock can now be exported; and
  2. (b) British meat and meat products can be sent;
and what are the probable dates for the lifting of all remaining restrictions. [HL3352]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty)

Tables showing the countries to which British Livestock, genetic material and meat and meat products can be exported have been placed in the Library of the House.

Most third countries stopped import of live animals of susceptible species and their products when foot and mouth disease (FMD) was confirmed in February 2001. Since January 2002 when the OIE declared the UK free of FMD, MAFF/Defra has been working hard to reinstate these export markets. Significant progress has been made in respect of meat and meat products, but it has proven more difficult to persuade countries to reopen markets to live animals and genetic material.

Defra is working closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, British Trade International and the Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) to target the key markets that have been identified by industry and encourage those governments that have a ban in place to lift it and also agree the necessary certification.

In addition to the import ban imposed as a result of FMD, a significant number of countries are still refusing to accept imports of UK animals, meat and products for other disease-related reasons.

The despatch of goods containing bovine material is subject to strict requirements, as laid down in the Bovines and Bovine Products (Trade) Regulations 1999, as amended. It is currently illegal to export cattle, beef or beef products from the UK unless they have been produced under either the date-based export scheme (DBES) (for beef from cattle reared and slaughtered in the UK) or the XAP scheme (using foreign origin beef). Tables 3–6 detail the latest information on other countries' bans on British beef.

A top priority for the UK is to secure moderate BSE risk status (and the abolition of DBES), which will then enable the UK to trade on a level playing field with other member states. Now that the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) has amended the thresholds for categorising countries according to BSE risks we are looking to secure the benefits of moderate risk status as early as possible in 2004. We have written to the Commission to outline our proposals, stressing the great importance the UK attaches to this issue, and have been encouraged by the Commission's positive reception.

Defra publishes lists of available export health certificates by country for specific meat and meat products on its website (http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/int-trde/prod-ex/certlist.pdf). The website also includes details of the restrictions imposed by third countries.

Defra continues in active liaison with the industry to press all these remaining countries at all levels to lift their restrictions. Defra is unable to state when this will be successful.

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