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Talks with China on ending its German pork ban remain difficult -minister

·2-min read
Measures to contain African swine fever

HAMBURG (Reuters) - Talks with China on lifting its ban on German pork imports after the pig disease African swine fever (ASF) was found in Germany remain difficult, German junior agriculture minister Uwe Feiler said on Friday.

China and a series of other pork buyers banned imports of German pork in September 2020 after Germany's first ASF case.

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

Negotiations with China are continuing at the level of experts, Feiler told a press conference.

"These negotiations are proving difficult," Feiler said.

Other states seeking regionalisation agreements with China had so far not been successful, he added.

"It is important that we continue," he said. "But other countries have shown their readiness to accept the regionalisation concept and we are continuing to work towards China also accepting this."

Germany has been successful in containing ASF in a small eastern region, Feiler added.

Some 2,070 ASF cases have been confirmed in wild boar since the disease was confirmed in Germany a year ago in the eastern states of Brandenburg and Saxony along the Polish border. Wild boars wondering into Germany from Poland spread the disease, which is harmless to humans but fatal for pigs.

"The countermeasures, despite hard conditions with infection pressure coming from a wide area in difficult terrain, have succeeded in restricting the cases to a small area in Brandenburg and Saxony," Feiler said.

"Apart from three farms inside the ASF restriction zone we have been able to keep farm animals free of the disease."

Germany's strategy to counter swine fever includes building fences along the Polish border to prevent wild boar entering Germany, intensified hunting of wild boar and strict hygiene measures on farms.

Germany's programme to eradicate ASF will be "a long distance run" and not a sprint, said Thomas Mettenleiter, president of the Friedrich Loeffler animal disease scientific institute.

(Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by David Evans)

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