Northern Ireland's agri-food firms boosted as Japan lifts imports ban
Northern Ireland's chief veterinary officer has welcomed news that the UK has received approval to recommence the export of beef and lamb to Japan.
Robert Huey from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) said the announcement by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) provided another major boost to the local agri-food industry and the wider economy.
The agreement, signed during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the United Kingdom, is estimated to be worth £127m over the first five years of access - approximately £75m for beef and £52m for lamb.
Japan, a major importer of beef with a growing demand for high quality lamb, has lifted its two-decade long ban on imports of these products.
Dr Huey said: "This welcome step follows concerted efforts by DAERA officials over the past few years, working closely with DEFRA colleagues, who hosted a number of inward inspection visits, and with industry to negotiate final approval.
"This joined up approach between Government, industry and key stakeholders is central to this announcement today.
"I am delighted that Japan has granted approval for the UK to export beef and lamb to their markets. It is a clear endorsement of the rigorous standards we, in Northern Ireland, have in place to produce our high-quality, safe and wholesome meat."
Ian Stevenson, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Livestock & Meat Commission, also welcomed the announcement.