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Germany continues talks with China over pork import bans

HAMBURG, Dec 10 (Reuters) - The German government is continuing intensive talks with China about relaxing import bans on German pork imposed after the discovery of African swine fever (ASF) in the country this autumn, Germany’s agriculture ministry said on Thursday.

China and other Asian pork buyers banned imports of German pork in September after the first ASF case was confirmed in Germany in wild boars, causing Chinese pork prices to surge and German prices to fall.

Around 240 ASF cases have been confirmed in Germany since the first on Sept. 10. All were in wild animals, with farm pigs not involved.

Germany is continuing to press China for a regionalization agreement on pork imports, the agriculture ministry in Berlin said in a statement.

This involves stopping pork imports only from the region of a country where ASF has been found and not a blanket ban on sales from the whole country.

The ministry said it had recently sent Chinese authorities an extensive catalogue of answers to China’s questions about Germany’s measures to prevent ASF from spreading inside the country, to prevent new infections arriving and the early detection of ASF in wild animals and should cases occur on farms.

China has not yet answered, the ministry said.

German junior agriculture minister Beate Kasch has been holding talks with the Chinese authorities and China has agreed that talks should continue between chief veterinary officers of both countries, the Berlin ministry said.

ASF is not dangerous to humans but is fatal to pigs. A massive outbreak in China wiped out at least 40% of China’s pigs in 2019 and created a massive import requirement. (Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by Mark Potter)