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China blocks German pork imports over African swine fever

China blocks German pork imports over African swine fever
German farmers’ fears have come true, as the world’s top buyer, China, has officially imposed an embargo on imports of German pork and pig products after swine fever was confirmed in a wild boar in Brandenburg.

China’s customs agency and agriculture ministry jointly announced the widely anticipated ban on Saturday. All pig-meat products shipped from China’s third-largest pork supplier, Germany, are to be sent back or destroyed, and imports already on the way will be subject to quarantine.

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Beijing has been battling for some time with a swine fever outbreak inside the country. The virus does not affect humans, but is deadly for animals, and has killed a great deal of China’s livestock. As a result, it had to boost imports to offset meat shortages and drive pork prices down. 

Earlier this week, the German government confirmed that a wild boar in Brandenburg had tested positive for African swine fever. After South Korea introduced restrictions on German pork imports, farmers feared they would lose another lucrative Asian market, which is known for purchasing pig parts, such as tails and ears, that are unpopular in other parts of the world. German producers urged China to avoid a blanket ban on pork shipments, and to restrict just those from areas affected by the infected animal.

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Germany’s pork exports to China exceeded $1 billion in 2019, and continued to rise this year. In the first four months of 2020, China doubled its imports from Germany, shipping some 158,000 tonnes, according to Reuters. But what is a nightmare scenario for German farmers, adding to the difficulties they currently face due to the coronavirus, could be beneficial for rival meat importers, such as the US and Brazil. Meat prices are already up, with US lean hog futures enjoying a second positive session on Friday.

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