Italy is still suffering at the hands of Chinese import restrictions despite Beijing’s decision to lift the ban on the sale of Italian mozzarella, the country’s food industry has claimed.

China revoked the ban last week after last month blocking imports of Italian buffalo mozzarella amid fears it might be contaminated with cancer-causing dioxins.

However, Italian food industry group Coldiretti told just-food today (21 April) that trade restrictions with China is still hitting producers in the country.

“We are pleased that the ban has been lifted,” a spokesperson said. “However, the 20-day quarantine imposed by Chinese customs prevents the import of many fresh products – including cheeses and fresh pasta.”

According to Coldiretti, even before the mozzarella ban, exports of cheese and milk products from Italy to China in 2007 only totalled around EUR830m (US$1.3bn).

“We are urging the opening of Chinese market. This is necessary to balance the heavy trade deficit with imports from China that exceed, by more than six times, exports to the Asian country.” Coldiretti said.

The industry body said the “high presence” of imitations of “Made in Italy” products in China is also affecting sales. “Chinese supermarkets carry many Chinese-made products that falsely claim to be made in Italy,” Coldiretti said.

Coldiretti said it believes a “major diplomatic effort” is required to prevent future “misunderstandings” – such as the buffalo mozzarella ban – and to increase Italian trade to China.