EFFORTS to restore haggis exports to the US have made progress, UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has said.

The minister met US ­Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and officials from President Barack Obama's administration in Washington earlier this week.

Talks focused on overturning the long-standing ban on importing haggis to the US. Scotland's national dish was barred because a key ingredient, sheep's lung, was subject to an import ban in 1971.

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Speaking after a round of meetings, Mr Paterson said: "We've made progress at opening up new markets for top-quality British produce including haggis, lamb, beef, cheese and confectionery.

"My meetings have revealed a shared vision for transatlantic trade, with both sides committed to securing a deal based on science and delivering economic growth for our farming, food and drink businesses."

Sources at the ­Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said a deal had not been expected this week. However, hopes of restoring haggis exports remain high after the US recently agreed to lift a ban on British beef.

The US and EU are also negotiating a major trade deal that would ease import/export restrictions on a range of goods.

The UK Government mission sparked a war of words with the Scottish Government this week.

Scotland's Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead - who has campaign against the haggis import ban for several years - accused the UK Government of taking up the issue only because of the independence referendum.

The UK haggis market is worth £15 million per year, and producers believe the US market could be worth more.