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New swine fever case on German farm seen as burden for import ban talks

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By Reuters

HAMBURG – The discovery of another case of African swine fever (ASF) in farm pigs in Germany in an area previously free of the disease could make negotiations about lifting existing import bans with China and other major buyers more difficult, experts said on Tuesday.

ASF was confirmed on farm animals on Monday in the eastern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in the first case on a farm since July.

China and other buyers banned imports of German pork in September 2020 after the first ASF case was confirmed in wild animals in east Germany along the border with Poland, but German pork sales to the inside Europe continue.

Germany is asking China to accept the “regionalisation concept” which stops pork imports only from the region of a country where ASF has been found instead of a blanket ban on sales from the whole country.

“Talks with China and other Asian importers about lifting their import bans on German pork will be made more difficult by the case on a farm again,” said Tim Koch, meat analyst at German market consultancy AMI. “I think are talking about years before the Chinese market could be reopened to German pigmeat exports.”

“While Germany continues to find ASF, whether on farms or in wild animals, I do not expect China to reopen its market to German pigmeat.”

Some 2,703 ASF cases in wild boar have occurred in the eastern states of Brandenburg and Saxony, like the newly-hit region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern near to the Polish border. Wild boars wandering into Germany from Poland spread ASF.

“The new case on a farm is a setback for Germany in its efforts to regain access for its pork exports to China and other larger importers,” said Justin Sherrard, global strategist animal protein at Rabobank, adding that Germany had contained ASF to a relatively small area of east Germany.

“But from the other trade perspective the case will change nothing. Germany’s trade partners in Asia and elsewhere are currently relatively well supplied by other European exporters,” he said, adding pork importing countries did not need German supplies.