China lifts ban on beef exports from SA

Farmers welcome the all clear following foot-and-mouth outbreak

China has lifted the ban on beef exports from South Africa
China has lifted the ban on beef exports from South Africa

China has lifted the ban on beef exports from SA following a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in January.

The outbreak resulted in the suspension of beef, wool and animal skin exports to China.

While the ban on wool and animal skin exports was lifted in March, Chinese ambassador to SA Lin Songtian announced last week that beef exports had also been given the all clear.

He made the announcement at the launch of Aberdare Cables’ R135m high-voltage power cable plant in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.

“China has taken the leap to lift the ban on beef imports from SA,” Lin said.

“This is because of the comprehensive, strategic partnership with SA.”

Agri SA executive director Omri van Zyl said the association was glad to hear that the beef ban had also been lifted.

“We initiated the whole mitigation against the foot-and-mouth disease and are very glad it is sorted out in such a short time,” he said.

He said previous bans had gone on for ages, resulting in major damage to the economy.

“There are massive opportunities to export meat to China and other markets that we are still not exploiting,” he said.

Van Zyl said the association hoped the exploitation of these markets would drive up beef prices.

“Most of the meat that would have been exported was consumed locally, which had an impact on the price and hurt farmers badly,” he said.

The lifting of the ban is important as farmers need any kind of good news at the moment
Doug Stern, Agri EC president

Agri Eastern Cape president Doug Stern said the lifting of the ban could lead to a major reprieve for farmers in the province.

“The beef prices have been suppressed for a long time. If you have export opportunities blocked, it has a ripple effect on the pricing of all goods.”

Stern said hopefully the lifting of the ban would see an increase in beef pricing.

“The drought in the province is in its fifth year and it has a hell of an impact on the farming communities.

“The lifting of the ban is important as farmers need any kind of good news at the moment,” Stern said.

The SA beef industry generated about R2.06bn in exports in 2017. Within the top 10 destinations for SA frozen beef exports, there are continental markets (Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola, Mauritius, Swaziland and Egypt), the Far East region (Hong Kong, China and Vietnam), as well as the Middle East (United Arab Emirates).

Foot-and-mouth disease broke out in Limpopo in January, resulting in the World Organisation for Animal Health temporarily suspending SA’s disease-free zone status.

Foot-and-mouth can infect people through skin wounds or the mucous membranes in the mouth after handling infected stock, or by drinking infected milk.

But it is not introduced by eating meat from infected animals.

Generally, infection of humans is temporary and is not considered a major public health hazard.

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