China lifts import ban on live poultry from US as bird flu threatens local farms

18-Feb-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

China lifted an import ban on live poultry products from the United States from February 14 the date when a partial trade deal between the two countries took effect.

The move came after China reported cases of the deadly H5N1 bird flu in chickens in two provinces in the first 10 days of February, a development that could threaten the domestic poultry industry.

Bans on American live poultry and poultry products imposed in 2013, 2014 and 2015 were all lifted, according to an announcement on Sunday by the general Administration of Customs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Those bans were put in place to prevent the spread of bird flu.

China also removed import bans on frozen poultry products from the US three months ago.

The latest move is another goodwill gesture to Washington on trade. China said earlier it would halve the extra tariffs it imposed on US goods in September including on crude oil, soybeans, pork and beef effective from February 14.

But the real effect of the policy relaxations could be limited because of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in mainland China, which has disrupted trade flows and restricted consumer spending.

Ships carrying refrigerated cargo containers of chicken from the US to mainland Chinese ports were being diverted to Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam because of the outbreak, Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, told Reuters on Thursday.

Sumner said Chinese ports had run out of space for refrigerated containers, which must be plugged into power points once they are offloaded to keep frozen meat and other food products cold.

Meanwhile, China’s ability to keep its pledge to buy an extra $200 billion worth of American goods and services over two years is under fresh scrutiny as the coronavirus crisis unfolds. The pledge is part of a phase one trade deal signed with Washington in mid-January.

The virus, which causes a disease known as Covid-19, has killed more than 1,600 people and infected over 68,000 since the outbreak began in December in central China, bringing economic and consumer activity to a standstill.

Along with the bird flu threat, China is also contending with the impact of an African swine fever outbreak that has shrunk its hog population, leaving the country relying on more imports of pork, a staple in the Chinese diet.

China reported an outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu in central Hunan province on February 1.

“The outbreak occurred in a farm in the Shuangqing district of Shaoyang city. The farm had 7,850 chickens, and 4,500 of the chickens have died from the [disease],” the agriculture ministry said in a statement. “Local authorities culled 17,828 poultry after the outbreak [was discovered].”

The ministry reported another H5N1 outbreak on February 9 in Sichuan province that killed 1,840 chickens, with another 2,261 birds culled.

No human cases of the H5N1 virus have been reported in the two outbreaks.


Category: China

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