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Libya to lift ban on Irish beef 'shortly'

The Government is expecting official confirmation of the end of the 16-year-long ban imminently.

LIBYA IS EXPECTED to lift its 16-year-long ban on Irish beef “shortly”, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney revealed today.

It is understood that official confirmation will be given by the Libyan authorities “imminently”.

The progress reflects years of “intensive efforts” at political, diplomatic and technical levels, said Coveney, adding that it is a “very exciting time for Irish agriculture and food”.

Today’s news represents the “continuing improvement in relations between Libya and the EU” as the ban has also been imposed on beef from a number of European Union countries since the mid-’90s.

In a recent written communication with the Libyan Minister for Agriculture and Animal and Sea Resources, Coveney emphasised that Ireland applies the highest animal health standards and the strictest veterinary public health controls along the food chain.

Certain veterinary health certificates setting out the conditions for exporting will now have to be agreed with the Libyan authorities but the Minister is optimistic this will happen “soon”.

At one time, the beef trade created a strong link between Libya and Ireland with multiple agreements in place for the exporting of live cattle. In fact, the North African kingdom became one of Ireland’s largest markets. However, that was scuppered when the ban on Irish beef was put in place in 1996 after the BSE (mad cow disease) scare.

The legacy of the BSE incidences in the 1990s lives on with bans still in place across the world in major markets including China and America. However, there was more welcome news for cattle farmers last month as the US Department of Agriculture agreed to review its current import regulations on beef.

More: US decision to review beef bans welcomed>

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