There is reason for fresh optimism for the Welsh farming industry following the announcement that Japan will end a ban on British beef and lamb.
Originally put in place due to the outbreak of the mad cow disease epidemic, imports of UK meat products are set to resume following restrictions for two decades.
The news was formally announced last week during a visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the UK to meet with Theresa May.
With the UK set to leave the EU this year, Welsh exporters hope to take advantage of the decision by Japan to reverse the ban on British beef and lamb. The deal is expected to open up £127m to British farmers over five years, around £75m for beef and £52m for lamb.
The market opening for lamb is set to be especially advantageous for the Welsh farming industry, where lamb accounts for a third of total food and drink exports.
Currently 92% of Welsh lamb exports are sold to EU countries. As members of EU’s single market and customs union potentially ending, this new opportunity with Japan and other Asian countries could provide a solution. In 2018, China also lifted its ban of UK beef, India agreed to import British sheep meat and Taiwan opened its market to pork.
Rhys Llywelyn, Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC)’s Market Development Manager, said:
“One of the greatest barriers to growing Welsh red meat exports is the historic ban on UK lamb and beef which some countries retain.
“Japan and India are among the countries we’ve been prioritising.
“We met Japanese government inspectors during their visit to Britain last summer and have been proactive in providing all the reassurance they need on the excellent quality and traceability of Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef.”
Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns commented that the deal ‘brings even greater opportunities for Welsh farmers to market their produce around the world’.