More meat imports may be allowed into China due to swine fever

Beijing is preparing to allow more sources of imported meat in an effort to overcome potential pork shortages.

According to the China Meat Association, Beijing will allow more imported meat into the country due to pork shortages as African swine fever (ASF) curbs domestic hog herds.

Gao Guan, the vice president of the association, continued that restrictions on buffalo meat imports from India may be lifted as well as live cows and sheep from Mongolia and pork from Russia. China is also looking to expedite the resumption of UK beef imports to this year after agreeing to lift a ban in 2018, he said. Shipments had been expected to resume in 2020.

“Though China is boosting its own production, more countries will also be allowed to export to the country after the outbreak of African swine fever,” Gao said. “The expansion of meat imports will cover any potential animal protein shortages in the country.”

As reported in Bloomberg, Beijing is seeking to expand potential sources of imported protein as the nation culls over one million hogs to contain the spread of African swine fever. China recently allowed poultry imports from Russia for the first time since the Soviet era and Germany’s agriculture minister plans to visit China later this week in a bid to ease trade restrictions on products like beef and poultry, according to a press release.

Increasing the potential sources of tested and certified meat would also help reduce smuggling into the country, Gao said. Beijing has recently stiffened controls at its borders to clamp down on the illicit trade of produce from its immediate neighbours.

African swine fever may result in a decline of China’s pork production by 30 percent in 2019, Rabobank predicted in April 2019; a drop of which would be roughly the same as Europe’s entire annual pork supply, the bank said.

There is currently no timetable for the changes, which are pending final approval from China’s customs, according to Bloomberg.

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