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CHICAGO, Aug 1 (Reuters) - China on Friday ended a four-month ban on imports of live U.S. pigs after the U.S. Department of Agriculture established protocols to test animals for deadly swine diseases, the USDA said.
China, the world's No. 1 pork consumer, and Japan in April became the first countries to notify the United States that they would suspend live pig imports over concerns about the spread of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, or PEDv. The disease has killed up to 8 million U.S. piglets since it was first discovered in the country last year.
Japan resumed imports on July 11, according to the USDA.
"The USA is back in the pig business for both countries," Tony Clayton, president of the Livestock Exporters Association of the USA, told Reuters in an email.
The protocols for testing come as the USDA is fighting to calm fears about PEDv among importers after the fast-spreading disease hurt trade more than officials had expected.
As of Friday, China requires that pigs exported from the United States test negative for PEDv and a similar swine virus, Porcine Delta Coronavirus, according to the USDA. Japan requires a negative test for PEDv and "certification statements" saying the pigs came from farms that were free of PEDv for at least a year.
"Before this, shipments were suspended," a USDA spokeswoman said. "Now, China and Japan are allowing the resumption of shipments."
Restrictions had applied to shipments of live U.S. animals used to develop genetic breeding programs. In 2013, China imported about $17 million worth of U.S. breeding pigs and Japan imported about $272,000 worth, according to the USDA. (Editing by Jonathan Oatis)