China bans German pork imports over African swine fever case

China has joined South Korea in stopping the import of German pork after a case of African swine fever was uncovered in a wild boar. Local producers have lost their biggest export market outside the EU.

German farmers on Saturday warned they will be hit hard by a Chinese ban on pork imports from the European Union’s largest producer.

The Chinese customs office and Agriculture Ministry announced the measure on Saturday, which also covers indirect imports and all pork-based products.

The ban will take effect immediately, meaning that all exports already shipped will either be destroyed or sent back.

A spokeswoman from Germany’s Food and Agriculture Ministry confirmed that it had been notified, before adding that the officials remained in talks with their Chinese counterparts.

According to the DPA news agency, the German government is hoping to limit the ban to certain regions of the country.

On Thursday it emerged that the carcass of a wild boar found in the state of Brandenburg, near Berlin had been infected with the African swine fever, the first known case in Germany.

Huge setback

The ban is likely to be a significant hit for Germany’s pork industry, with exports to China worth around €1 billion ($1.2 billion) a year, representing some 25% of the EU country’s export market.

Germany is the third-largest exporter of pork to China, which will now likely import more from the US, Spain, and Brazil.

China itself has seen an outbreak of swine fever since 2018, which has made it more reliant on imports. Some 100 million animals have died or had to be slaughtered.

African swine fever is deadly for pigs and wild boar, and there is no vaccine or medication to treat it, but it is considered harmless for humans.

Joachim Rukwied, president of Germany’s Farmers’ Association (DBA) condemned the decision as “clearly disproportionate and simply unacceptable,” though he admitted that the move had been feared.