UK exporters are set to benefit from a multi-million-pound boost as Japan opened its market yesterday to imports of UK lamb and beef.

The agreement, signed during Prime Minister Abe's visit to the UK, is estimated to be worth a total of £127 million over the first five years of access - approximately £75m for beef and £52m for lamb.

Japan, a major importer of beef with a growing demand for high quality lamb has lifted its two-decade long ban on imports of these products with immediate effect.

The deal follows a year of global successes for UK exporters, which included China lifting its ban on UK beef, Taiwan opening its market to pork and India preparing to import UK sheep meat.

Farming Minister George Eustice said: "The opening of the Japanese market is an excellent result for beef and lamb producers across the UK and demonstrates confidence in our high standards of food and drink.

"As we enter a new era as a global exporter, unlocking this market marks a major step for future trading relationships and signals our commitment to supporting our food and drinks industry to export more British produce."

The lifting of the ban follows a series of visits and negotiations between UK and Japanese officials, which culminated in an inspection of UK beef and lamb production systems in 2018.

Japan is renowned for its stringent food safety and import control regime and opening this market is expected to send positive signals to other countries, particularly in Asia, regarding the safety of UK exports.

Benefits will be felt across the supply chain throughout the UK, with access particularly welcomed by beef producers in both Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Market round-up

C&D Auction Marts Ltd sold six prime heifers in Dumfries on Wednesday to a top of 234p per kg and an average of 202p, while four prime bullocks peaked at 191p and levelled at 177p.

In the rough ring 11 beef cows sold to 110p and averaged 99p, while 57 dairy cows peaked at 138p and levelled at 88p.

The firm also sold 1347 prime hoggs to a top of £96 per head and 213p per kg to average 184p.

The 366 cast sheep forward saw heavy ewes sell to £167.50 for a Texel and average £69, while light/export-type ewes peaked at £65.50 for Cheviots and levelled at £45.

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 1548 prime hoggs in Newton Stewart on Wednesday to a top of £95 and 207.9p to average 185p.

A good show of cast sheep saw 202 heavy ewes sell to £162 for a Texel and average £69.87, while 188 light ewes peaked at £49 for Blackfaces and levelled at £36.14.