First German swine fever cases on farms could complicate import ban talks

HAMBURG, July 16 (Reuters) - The discovery on Friday of the first cases of African swine fever (ASF) in farm pigs in Germany could make negotiations about lifting existing import bans with China and other major buyers more difficult, but no major impact on the German pork market is immediately expected, experts said.

ASF was confirmed on farm animals Germany for the first time on Friday on two small farms in the eastern Brandenburg area where 1,267 cases have been found in wild boar.

This is not expected to have a major market impact as German pork exports are already subject to bans from many importers outside the EU, the experts said.

China and many other buyers banned imports of German pork in September 2020 after the first ASF case was confirmed in wild animals, but German pork sales to the EU continue.

“The discovery of ASF on a German farm does not really change the overall situation much with import bans already in place by China and other importers,” said Justin Sherrard, Global Strategist Animal Protein at Rabobank. “They cannot restrict trade further which is already stopped.”

“I do not expect any market impact from this,” said Torsten Staack, CEO of German pig farmers’ association ISN.

“German pork exports to many third countries were anyway stopped after the first cases in wild boar. The EU countries are continuing with the regionalisation concept, so no changes to German sales markets are to be expected.”

Regionalisation means stopping pork imports from the region of a country where ASF has been found but not a blanket ban on sales from the whole country.

“I do not think the discovery on ASF on farms will have a significant market impact as Germany’s pork exports to third counties are already facing widespread export stops, including to the big buyer China and elsewhere in Asia,” said Tim Koch, meat analyst at German market consultancy AMI.

“But it could perhaps make negotiations with importers like China over the regionalisation concept more difficult and import bans may be expected to remain in force for the foreseeable future.”

Rabobank’s Sherrard added: ““It could perhaps make negotiations with China and other countries about lifting the bans harder, but these negotiations have been very hard anyway, so there is no real change.” (Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by Jane Merriman)