15 November 1999
South Africa set to lift beef ban

BRITAIN is close to winning back its South African market for beef following talks between Tony Blair and Thabo Mbeki, the president of South Africa.

The government is hoping that other Commonwealth countries will follow suit and lift their bans.

The South African ban was imposed in 1995. A spokesman for the Prime Minister said the British experts had made progress in satisfying South Africas veterinary and medical officers that British beef was safe.

The decision on ending the ban was now a political one for the South African cabinet.

South Africa was Britains biggest beef market outside Europe before the worldwide prohibition prompted by the BSE crisis in Britain.

Last-ditch discussions are expected to take place today (Monday) between British and French agriculture ministers in an attempt to avoid a long legal battle over Frances refusal to lift its ban.