US lifting ban on imports of British lamb, says Boris Johnson

The United States is lifting its ban on imports of British lamb, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.

It would mean British farmers can export to the US for “the first time in decades”, he added.

The PM, who is in the US for talks with UN leaders and President Joe Biden, rejected claims the chances of a free trade deal were receding.

But “in the meantime”, he said the government was “taking practical steps to help our exports”.

The United States had banned British lamb and beef imports since 1989, since the first outbreaks of BSE, commonly known as mad cow disease.

The ban on British beef was lifted in September last year. There is no indication yet of when the US will start accepting lamb and lamb products from the UK.

The US Department for Agriculture has been consulting on lifting the ban since 2016. There were originally hopes it would be lifted the following year.

At the time, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimated the change would be worth an extra £35m a year to the UK economy.

On the chances of a wider trade deal, Mr Johnson admitted the UK was now focusing on making “incremental steps” rather than a full-blown deal.

He added that although the Biden administration “is not doing free trade deals around the world right now,” he had “every confidence that a great deal is there to be done.”

‘Not a priority’

Securing a trade deal with the United States has been a priority for many Brexit-backing politicians, following the UK’s departure from the EU.

But on Tuesday, Mr Biden appeared to downplay the chances of an agreement soon, adding he would discuss the issue “a little bit” with Mr Johnson during his trip to the White House.

“We’re going to have to work that through,” the US president added.

George Eustice, the UK environment secretary, told Sky News a trade deal was “not a priority for the US administration” and the UK was “not putting timescales on it”.

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