Sat, Feb 21, 2009 - Page 2 News List

COA to pursue talks with Singapore to revive pork exports

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The Council of Agriculture (COA) yesterday pledged to seek negotiations with Singapore on the resumption of pork exports, which have been suspended in the wake of the latest foot-and-mouth outbreak in Taiwan.

Singapore’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said on Thursday it was suspending imports of pork and pork products from Taiwan in the wake of the report of foot-and-mouth infections at two hog farms in Yunlin and Changhua counties earlier this month.

COA Vice Minister Wang Cheng-teng (王政騰) said the Singaporean authorities had been informed of the outbreak and that pork exporters had also taken the initiative to withhold exports to Singapore.

Wang said chances were good that exports could be resumed, as Singapore does not raise hogs of its own but relies on imports.

Singapore banned pork imports from Taiwan in 1997 following an earlier outbreak and only lifted the ban in 2007.

AVA data show that Singapore imported 999 tonnes of pork and pork products from Taiwan last year, which accounted for less than 1 percent of Singapore’s pork and pork product market.

Nevertheless, Singapore is a significant market for Taiwan’s farmers, with more than half of the nation’s annual exports of around 1,400 tonnes of fresh or frozen pork going to Singapore in recent years, COA figures show.

Before the 1997 outbreak of foot-and-mouth — a highly contagious viral disease that mainly affects cloven-hoofed animals — Taiwan raised as many as 12 million hogs per year, with 7 million being exported to Japan, the council said.

Taiwan now raises around 6.4 million hogs a year, mainly for domestic consumption.

The latest foot-and-mouth outbreak occurred just as the nation was working toward the goal of being listed as a country free of foot-and-mouth disease, after having been recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as a “foot-and-mouth-free country with vaccination” thanks to its efforts to eliminate the disease over the past decade.

As a result of the outbreak, the wholesale price of hogs in Taiwan dropped from NT$60.89 per kilogram on Wednesday to NT$57.25 per kilogram on Thursday.

In a bid to stabilize hog prices, hog farmers agreed on Thursday to reduce pork production by 5 percent after discussing the issue with the COA.

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