China has lifted a ban on imports of Belgian pork and pig products brought in five years ago to help curb an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF).
The news was announced on Friday by China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and General Administration of Customs, according to a report by Politico.
In a meeting between Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing hours later, they also released a joint statement saying that Belgian pig and pork exports coming into China must still comply with statutory inspection and quarantine requirements.
It comes on the heels of news that China has prohibited pig and wild boar products entering the country from Bangladesh on Thursday, after the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) reported that an ASF outbreak had been reported in the port city of Chittagong.
Speaking to reporters, Belgian foreign minister Hadja Lahbib said that this brought good news for pork farmers in Belgium. “They are known far beyond our borders for their high-quality pork. Together with [agriculture minister] David Clarinval, I have worked hard in recent years to lift the Chinese embargo. With results.”
Belgium, the EU’s 5th largest exporter of pig products, had embargoes placed on their exports by 29 countries after cases were initially found in the Luxembourg region in September 2018 . Since then, there has been a widespread lift of these bans, with China being one of the last countries to do so.
Mr. Lahbib also emphasized the importance of the decision for China, saying: “This success not only benefits our pig farmers, but also means more exports and a better trade balance with China.”
A recent report from Reuters showed that China, who raise roughly half the pigs in the world, have been dealing with high costs and low prices since the outbreak, and have had to ramp up their slaughter of tens of millions of pigs since November.