China ends trade ban on Italian pork

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

Italian cured meat could be popular with China's middle class, according to analysts
Italian cured meat could be popular with China's middle class, according to analysts

Related tags Export International trade Italy Pork

China has lifted its 17-year-old trade ban on Italian pork imports, in place since 1999 over swine vesicular disease (SVD) concerns.

Italy’s minister of agriculture Maurizio Martina has hailed China’s decision to lift its import ban on Italian pork as a “very important result​” that will enhance the country’s €350m export trade with China.

The deal came after months of negotiation with China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) – the body responsible for ensuring China’s imports pose no threat to the country. A joint effort from Italy’s Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health and the Italian Embassy in China helped convince AQSIQ that Italy was free from SVD.

It clears the way for Italy’s northern region – responsible for 80% of the country’s pork production – to start exporting fresh and frozen pig meat to China.

High prices limit impact

The lifting of the trade ban comes as China looks to diversify its booming pork imports​, but Italy’s access to the market is unlikely to affect other key European pork exporters like Denmark, Germany and Spain.

In my opinion, the policy change will not immediately bring a big impact to Italy, as pork prices in Italy are higher than other major exporting countries, such as Germany,​” said Chenjun Pan, animal protein analyst at Rabobank.

Italy’s pork exports to Hong Kong decreased in 2015, compared with previous years. This also shows that Italy’s pork is not as competitive as those from other major exporting countries. But as Chinese importers are trying to diversify importing sources to expand supply, and Chinese pork prices remain high, this is a good time for Italian exporters to take the chance to access the Chinese market.​”

Martina released a statement to stress how “crucial​” it was for the country to fire up exports to China as soon as possible. Carving open China for Italian pork is part of Italy’s plan to become a larger exporter to China and Martina said ending the “pig meat block is a decisive step forward​”.

In the last six months, exports of Italian hams have shown strong growth, rising by 15% to 13,600 tonnes (t) compared to the same period a year earlier. Imports of fresh and frozen pork, however, are down by 6% to 481,800t in the same period, according to data from UK levy board AHDB Pork.

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