September 19, 2011


Russia to remove ban on British beef



UK Prime Minister David Cameron requests Russia to remove the ban it placed on UK beef imports at the peak of the BSE crisis twenty years ago.


Cameron raised the issue in his meeting in Moscow with President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and their officials earlier this week.


UK's beef trade sees the Russian market as offering huge potential, with sources citing trade possibly worth US$180.5 million over a three-year period if the embargo is lifted. Russia is one of the world's biggest beef buyers. Much of the 600,000 tonnes it buys annually comes from South America, but it also does significant trade with Ireland which has already this year shipped in excess of 3,400 tonnes to the Russian Federation.


The British industry has long pressed the UK Government to help reopen the market. Russia has, however, some of the strictest veterinary protocols in the world and negotiations on these have first to be concluded before any beef can leave the UK.


The market is deemed a top priority for the joint industry-government export certification partnership which works to open those markets that remain closed to UK meat exports.


Beef levy boards Eblex and Quality Meat Scotland are involved in the partnership.


Eblex head of trade development Peter Hardwick said he was pleased at the issue having been raised by Mr Cameron. He added, "Russia is a very important market but one that we simply don't have access to at the moment. There are several other EU member states with higher incidence of BSE than us that already have trade relationships with Russia. As such, the opening of the Russian market is a priority in Eblex's export strategy to secure new markets and optimise returns."


Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers executive manager Ian Anderson said Scotland's meat processors had done well in international markets since BSE restrictions were lifted, with a 40% increase in trade in the last year alone.


He added that Russia would be an attractive market and several firms would be interested in renewing business links with the country.


QMS chairman Jim McLaren said it was fully involved with the efforts being made to reopen Russian markets. It also sees huge potential in developing premium and commodity beef markets to the US and China.


A new export strategy is to be revealed by QMS at next month's Anuga food fair in Cologne, Germany.

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