GERMANY, Berlin. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture continues to work on easing the burden on the German slaughter pig market by achieving a reopening of key foreign markets.
According to the Agriculture Department last week, it is still engaged in intensive negotiations with all relevant trading partners, and in particular with China, on regionalization to allow for the resumption of shipments. Only recently, a comprehensive Chinese questionnaire had been sent to the Ministry of Agriculture in Beijing. Among other things, it deals with the measures taken to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF), the prevention of new entries into Germany and the early detection of ASF outbreaks in the wild and domestic pig population.
However, a response from the People's Republic to the list of questions is still pending, the agriculture ministry reported. The State Secretary in the Ministry, Beate Kasch, had achieved in the most recent talks with the Chinese General Administration of Customs (GACC) and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture (MARA) that the Chinese side was willing to continue the talks initially at the level of chief veterinarians. The focus of these talks, he said, would be the desire for recognition of regionalization so that exports from ASF-free areas in Germany would once again be possible. This is difficult, however, as neither the European Union nor any individual member state has yet succeeded in gaining the People's Republic's acceptance of regionalization with regard to ASF.
For an end to the price crisis in the German pig market, the resumption of third-country exports, especially to China, is an important key. Almost all third countries banned imports of pork from Germany after the first outbreak of ASF in wild boar in Brandenburg in mid-September.
Meanwhile, the agricultural policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Dr. Gero Hocker, accused Minister Julia Klöckner of announcing a regionalization concept with important buyer countries but never signing it. She had therefore "disqualified herself for further negotiations". Now it is up to the Chancellor, Hocker stressed. Head of government Dr. Angela Merkel must coordinate with the European heads of government and then implement vis-à-vis China what her minister had only pretended to do but failed to achieve, he said.
A brief report from the Beijing Ministry of Agriculture, meanwhile, reveals that on the Chinese side, it was not the head of the agriculture department who took part in the consultations, but Vice Minister Zhang Taolin. He emphasized that agricultural cooperation between the two countries was developing rapidly and producing fruitful results, but the official report did not mention trade in pork.