Trade awaits crucial export decision

Chief vets from the European member states are meeting this morning in Brussels to decide whether to relax restrictions on the export of meat products

from Britain following the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) earlier this month.

The current export ban expires at midnight on Saturday, 25 August and if the vets decide not to renew it, exports could resume, in theory, this Sunday. The meat, however, will have to have been slaughtered after the lifting of the ban.

Defra has released a timetable for removing FMD restrictions. If no more cases are discovered, it plans to lift the protection and surveillance zones around the affected farms in Surrey on 9 September and remove all remaining movement and export restrictions on 10 September.

Whatever the European vets decide today, their decision will only affect European exports. An export ban on livestock and meat will remain in place for the rest of the world until November for a statutory three month period. Following that, Britain will be declared FMD free and it can begin renegotiating export certificates with third countries.

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