The government has acted on requests that it seek the same derogations for Scottish seed potatoes that allowed imports to the EU from parts of Canada.
Imports of seed potatoes to the EU from non-EU countries are prohibited, except in the case of Switzerland which complies with EU regulations and, unusually, parts of Canada some 20 years ago.
Prior to the UK leaving the European Union, Scottish seed potatoes were a crucial import for markets in the continent.
More than 75 percent of Britain's seed potato exports comes from Scotland, with the country exporting seed to 18 EU countries in 2020/21.
However, since January 2021, Scottish farmers have been unable to export seed potatoes to the bloc, including Northern Ireland, because of changes in trade regulations.
Gordon MP Richard Thomson, who has been campaigning for the government to restore access to the export markets in the EU for Scottish seed potatoes, has given a cautious welcome to the new development.
He wrote to the then Defra Secretary Ranil Jayawardena in October, asking “whether you will explore new ways in which this [the resumption of exports] can be achieved, for example, by seeking to obtain the same derogation that was granted to certain locations in Canada”.
In a response, Defra Minister of State Richard Benyon said: “The government has raised the derogation granted to Canada with the EU, which may evidence that trade can be facilitated where risks are mitigated.”
Mr Thomson said this was a cautious step forward, adding: “I’m slightly surprised that it took an approach from myself for the UK government to pick this up and run with it.
"Had we had anything resembling a functioning government in recent weeks and months then we could perhaps have expected the initiative to have been taken before now."
Mr Thomson said there should now be meaningful engagement with the EU on how the precedent of the Canadian derogation could usefully be used to help restore the export markets for Scottish seed potatoes.
“If it can be achieved for parts of the Canadian provinces, then it can be achieved for Scottish seed potato exporters," he added.