Italy has welcomed the lifting of a ban by China on imports of fresh pork from northern Italy that was imposed in 1999 over fears of swine vesicular disease.

Italy’s food and agriculture ministry said yesterday (28 September) that the move recognised the regions including Liguria, Piedmont and Lombardy, where more than 80% of national pork production is concentrated, were free of swine vesicular disease.

China’s state supervisory agency for quality, inspection and quarantine, AQSIQ, confirmed that the ban imposed on pork imports from nine regions of northern Italy had been formally lifted earlier this month.

Italy’s food and agriculture minister Maurizio Martina said the lifting of the ban was “a very important result for the protection of our pork industry”.

Martina said the move was a boost for Italy’s “strategic plan to vigorously support the export of our products to key markets such as China”. “It is now crucial that we start the operational phase soon and reopen the (export) market for good.”

According to Martina, Italian exports to China in recent years have “exceeded EUR 350m (US$393m) and confirm a growing interest in food made in Italy”. 

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By GlobalData

Martina said in addition to the “decisive step forward” on exports of pork to China, negotiations had been concluded on exports of a range of other food products.

Earlier this month, China lifted a ban on imports of beef from the US, which had been in place over concern about BSE since 2003.