THE UK’s listed status application has been agreed by the EU after it met the animal health and biosecurity assurances required for a third country to export live animals and animal products.

Part and parcel of the contingency planning for a ‘no deal’ Brexit – in which case ‘third country’ status would be needed to continue these exports – the agreement covers the movement of horses too.

Food and Animal Welfare Minister David Rutley described the success of the application as “good news for UK businesses”.

“Our top priority remains delivering a negotiated deal,” he said. “But it is the job of a responsible government to ensure we are prepared for all scenarios, including no deal.”

If a deal was achieved, the UK would not need to be listed during the implementation period, but this agreement at least gave certainty businesses would be able to continue trading on the same terms as now until the end of 2020.

Guidance pages on how businesses can prepare themselves for trading post-Brexit are available on the website.

The National Sheep Association gave a qualified welcome to the new third country status.

Almost 40 per cent of Britain’s sheep meat is exported and of that, 96 per cent goes to the EU.

Communications officer Eleanor Phipps said: “NSA is very pleased to hear this news as it means there will be no period of lost trade. UK farmers can rest assured there will remain a market for their products in the EU from the point we leave.

“Had we left without listed status being secured, sheep meat exporters would have lost access to the EU market overnight with no knowledge of when it may be returned, which would have been very damaging for the industry.

“With this assurance, exporters can rest assured the market will remain if we leave without a deal.”

However, the organisation is still emphasising the risks of a no-deal, in which case swingeing tariffs of between 40 and 50 per cent would be applied to UK lamb exports to the EU. “We’re still very clear that a no-deal Brexit would not be desirable for our industry,” she said.

But if Theresa May’s deal were to be ratified, she added, it would allow trading to continue tariff-free.