Imminently expecting the return of its status as free of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), Taiwan is making plans to resume exports of fresh pork.
Taiwan is hoping to be able to return to the international fresh pig meat market if, as expected, it receives official notification of its status as free of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) without vaccination.
According to Taiwan News, the Council of Agriculture is expecting the official notice from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as early as next week — latest by the end of June. The move will make Taiwan only the second country in Asia — along with Japan — to achieve this status.
In recent years, Taiwan’s pig meat exports have been limited to select processed products and destined for few markets.
Developments in Taiwan’s FMD status
Currently, Taiwan’s official status is one of FMD-free with the use of vaccination.
FMD is thought to have arrived on the island in 1997, brought in by infected pigs. Outbreaks resulted in the culling of 4 million pigs, reports Focus Taiwan, and lost exports to a value of TWD60 billion Taiwan (US$2 billion) per year.
Soon, a nationwide FMD vaccination program was introduced to control the disease. By July 2018, there were no new cases. About one year later, Taiwan applied to the OIE for a change in status to “FMD-free without vaccination.”
Taiwan’s future as a pork exporter
When the official notification of its new status is received from the OIE, Taiwan will be free to export fresh pig meat to more markets.
Head of the Council of Agriculture, Chen Chi-chung, said that among the first targets for Taiwanese pork exporters will be Singapore, reported The Taiwan Times.
Taiwan currently raises around 5.5 million hogs valued at TWD70.9 billion.
According to the same source, Spain, the U.S. and Germany compete as the world’s top pork exporters. China leads the importer rankings, accounting for about 40% of the total 11 million metric tons of pork traded globally each year.
As a result of rigorous border inspections and heavy fines for import breaches, Taiwan has been able to remain free of African swine fever. Since China’s first confirmed outbreak in August 2018, the disease has been reported in 14 Asian countries (including Russia’s Far East federal district).