Taiwan allows U.K. pork imports; no impact expected on local farmers

Taipei, Aug. 11 (CNA) Taiwan has allowed pork from the United Kingdom to be imported to the country and expects no adversary impact on Taiwanese pig farmers, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine under the Council of Agriculture said Saturday.

It is the first time for Taiwan to open its pork market to the U.K. after Taiwanese authorities gave the greenlight on Aug. 6.

Taiwan already allows pork imports from Japan, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Austria, Spain, Italy and France.

As Taiwan has been a member of the World Trade Organization since 2002, the bureau said, it made its decision to allow U.K. pork after careful assessment based on international trade and food safety standards as well as animal inspection and quarantine rules.

According to the bureau, the U.K. filed an application with Taiwan in 2004 to sell its pork in the Taiwan market. The European country, however, was hit later by an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

With the FMD outbreak later eliminated in the U.K., a task force organized by Taiwan's authorities to review the situation announced in 2010 that the European country was a FMD-free country.

FMD, which can travel by wind as well as farm equipment, causes high fevers and blisters in cloven-hoofed animals and often leads to death. It is very rarely transmitted to humans.

The bureau said the U.K. later continued to send more data to Taiwan to verify its pork production has met sanitary requirements in 2017, while the bureau and the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) sent a team to the U.K. for an inspection and confirmed the development.

As a result, the bureau and the MOHW came to a conclusion to allow imports from the U.K. starting from Aug. 6.

The bureau said the U.K. pork sales to Taiwan are expected to change the pork import portfolio, but not affect local pork sales since Taiwanese consumers prefer fresh pork sent from the local slaughterhouses over frozen imported pork.

According to the bureau, Taiwan-produced pork accounts for 87 percent of the total consumption here. Imported pork, which ranges between 60,000 kilograms and 80,000 kilograms a year, makes up the remaining 13 percent, the bureau said.

In a statement released by the U.K. government, it said the move by Taiwan to import U.K. pork was expected to bring in more than 50 million British pounds or NT$2 billion (US$65.15 million) to the country's farmers and food industry over the next five years.

"Access to this new market in Taiwan is great news for our farmers and producers and gives a welcome boost to the pork production industry -- already worth Pound 1.3 billion to the U.K. economy," U.K. Food Minister George Eustice said in the statement.

"This is a significant development for pork exporters and reinforces our reputation for producing high quality food and drink, guaranteeing quality from farm to fork," Eustice added.

Meanwhile, the British Office in Taipei said Saturday that it welcomes Taiwan's decision to open the market to British pork.

"This marks a further strengthening of the U.K.-Taiwan trade relationship and follows excellent collaboration between the British and Taiwanese authorities on this issue over two years," the office said.

"We look forward to British pork being available to Taiwanese consumers in the near future," the office added.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel