China has lifted the ban on beef imports, following a unique decision by the Chinese government after an expert team was sent to South Africa to study the situation of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in the country.
On 7 January 2019, South Africa lost its ‘FMD disease-free zone without vaccination’ status, as granted by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
A report by the then Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), confirmed an outbreak of the disease in the high surveillance area of the FMD-free zone in Limpopo.
Announcing the lifting of the ban on beef exports to China during a media briefing held at the Chinese Embassy in Pretoria on Tuesday, Ambassador Lin Songtian of China to South Africa said that in May, the Chinese Government made a unique decision to lift the ban on wool and animal skin imports.
He said early in June, an expert team was also sent to South Africa to study the situation of FMD in the country.
Songtian said that as a most important and reliable development partner of South Africa, China attached great importance to South Africa’s request to resume the export of beef, animal skin, wool and other related products to China.
He said that China has kept close contact with the South African Government to seek constructive solutions, and the Embassy of China in South Africa has also worked very hard and close with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and DAFF of South Africa.
“I led our staff to tour some affected areas and local abattoirs and sent several strong, clear and timely messages to the Chinese Government. I’m very happy the joint efforts we have made got the very positive and quick response from the Chinese Government,” Songtian said.
He said that during the meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa on the side-lines of the G20 Osaka Summit, with the request from South Africa, President Xi Jinping promised to lift the ban as early as possible to resume the beef import.
“Just less than one month after the meeting of our two Heads of State, the ban on beef import from South Africa has officially been lifted while the OIE did not complete its procedure to resume the status of FMD-free zone without vaccination.”
Songtian added that China is the largest consuming market for South Africa’s beef, wool and animal skin products, noting that the decision made by the Chinese Government to lift the ban without the OIE status is not only a practical but also a pioneering action to deepen mutually-beneficial cooperation.
“It fully demonstrates our strong political commitment to supporting the economic and social transformation and development of South Africa. It will surely send a strong message to the international communities and will definitely challenge the OIE to speed up its procedure to resume South Africa’s status of FMD-free zone without Vaccination, and encourage more countries to resume beef import from South Africa, so as for South Africa to facilitate its agriculture development and help more people out of poverty,” Songtian said.
In March, no new cases of FMD were detected. DAFF successfully negotiated the revision of veterinary health certificates for beef to Bahrain, Lesotho, Mozambique, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, Swaziland, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.
Trade in pork from FMD-free pig compartments were also re-opened to Lesotho, Seychelles, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Namibia (partially).