January 17, 2020 / 3:18 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-China opens its market to Russian beef producers

* Russia says agreement reached after years of talks

* Talks on Russian pork supplies to China continue (Adds detail, quotes, context)

MOSCOW, Jan 17 (Reuters) - China has opened its market to Russian beef supplies and has certified two Russian producers for deliveries starting from this Friday, Russia’s agriculture safety watchdog said.

The world’s biggest pork consumer has been clearing imports of meat from exporters worldwide to plug a deficit after African Swine Fever (ASF) killed millions of pigs in the country.

China’s decision to open its beef market to two of Russia’s producers is the result of years of talks and is unrelated to the situation with ASF, Rosselkhoznadzor representative Yuliya Melano told Reuters.

The two Russian producers are Bryansk meat company, part of privately held group Miratorg, and another privately-held firm Zarechnoe, Melano added.

“The signing of the protocol was preceded by a lengthy review of the Russian beef monitoring system and approval of the text of the protocol,” Rosselkhoznadzor said in its statement.

Russia’s agriculture ministry said in September it hoped that - after years of talks with Moscow - China would open its market for Russian beef and pork within 12 months.

The deal on beef was reached days after Russia’s watchdog issued a warning that it could temporarily limit supplies of some types of fodder and fish from China.

Russia is still in talks with China about pork supplies.

ASF is harmless to humans but highly contagious and deadly in pigs. Its spread in China has redrawn global food supply chains as the country has had to rely more on imports. (Reporting by Polina Devitt; editing by Jason Neely and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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