Trump administration to blame for “incredibly frustrating” 2-year delay still facing haggis exports

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DONALD Trump’s administration is to blame for Scottish haggis makers facing a further two-year delay before exports to the US can resume, a top businessman claims.

Two years ago the US Government suggested its long-standing ban on haggis could be lifted within months. Last year, environment secretary Michael Gove suggested Trump’s Scottish roots could help lift the ban.

But a year on the owner and managing director of Macsweens of Edinburgh says it could be another 24 months before haggis starts crossing the Atlantic again.

James Macsween said his firm had spent thousands of pounds on a new product for the US market and he was “incredibly frustrated” by the delay.

Mr Macsween warned the Scottish industry as a whole was losing at least £2m a year in potential sales to the US.

James Macsween said he was “incredibly frustrated” with the delay.

He said his firm had lost around £200,000 already as a result of the exhaustive procedures being followed by US officials.

Mr Macsween said today: “I’m incredibly frustrated with the change of administration in America causing a delay to the deal. It’s unfortunate to me and the Scottish Government who are doing an excellent job.

“It’s not just about haggis. The deal will also allow us to export our lamb and beef products as well.

“They had to recruit new head of departments, due to the new presidency and I am told that was the spanner in the works for at least 18 months.

“I would estimate it would at least another 18- 24 months before we start to see somethings happen.”

He added: “We had to reformulate the recipe for the new market using lamb heart and lamb fat.”

Mr Macsween claimed the firm had spent thousands of pounds on a new product for the US market.

The firm has already spent £10,000 on the new haggis for the US market and “at a conservative guess” has lost £100,000 to £200,000 in potential sales, said Mr Macsween.

He said the Americans Food Standards authority is looking at “equivalence” with UK public health controls.

“This means they look at the rules and regulations thoroughly and see what is equal to theirs and the changes we need to make before anything can happen,” he said.

An industry insider, who asked to remain anonymous, supported Mr Macsween’s complaint that the change of US administration had caused the delay.

He said: “The US department of Agriculture were instructed by President Trump to slow down on these type of trade deals and focus on bigger deals.

“The government was told that they {US] would send inspectors at the first term of 2017 but, we are still waiting for this to happen.

“It will happen it’s just a question of when the US Government will take the necessary action.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Before the export of any UK beef and lamb can commence, the US Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) must deem equivalence of UK public health controls to those of the US.

“Talks on this matter are still ongoing and until such time as this has progressed the exportation of haggis to the USA is not possible.”

The US does not permit the sale of traditional Scottish haggis because it contains sheep lung, which is considered by them unfit for human consumption.

The US State Department said because of the partial shut-down of the Federal Government it was unlikely to be able to comment.

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