Welsh Lamb back on the menu in the Middle East

The United Arab Emirates has lifted the ban on imports of sheep, lamb and goats form Wales.

Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones has welcomed news from Dubai that came less than two months after the Minister met the UAE Government and pressed for the re-opening of the export market for Welsh meat.

An official decree was received on 29 April from the office of His Excellency Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahd, UAE Minister of Environment and Water, stating that the UAE has lifted the ban on all imports of sheep, lamb and goats from Wales.

Bill Joyce, marketing manager for Meat Promotion Wales, said: "We have been closely involved with this process and we are delighted with the outcome. Exporting was haulted after the foot and mouth outbreak and we are working hard to get our reputation back.."

"The demand is small but profitable. We really have to work to show that welsh meat is above meat from New Zealand and Australia."

The UAE is a country with minimal tariff barriers, no quota restrictions, a growing population and a rapidly expanding tourist sector, where lamb is the traditional meat of preference. It is only 25 per cent self sufficient in red meat, most of which is goat, and is increasingly dependent on meat imports.

Elin Jones said: "This is the news we have all been waiting for, and it signals a significant boost for the Welsh lamb sector. It means that the export of fresh, chilled and frozen meat from Wales can now resume.

"The range of markets within the UAE present a variety of opportunities for Welsh lamb suppliers, including the sophisticated supermarkets of Dubai and its up market restaurants and the food outlets of Abu Dhabi.

"We have also been told that senior UAE officials will be pressing for all Gulf Cooperation Council countries to lift any existing bans on Welsh lamb. This could open up a huge market for Wales over the coming years."

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