After a 15-year halt, China has agreed to allow pork imports from Russia, according to Russian agricultural watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor. The ban was initially imposed in 2008 following an outbreak of African swine fever (ASF). The decision to lift the ban comes after a thorough check of Russia’s system of ASF control by China’s General Administration of Customs (GAC). Under the new regulations, pork imports will only be allowed from Russian regions that are proven to be free of the virus.
Rosselkhoznadzor stated that Chinese customs officials will formulate inspection and quarantine requirements for Russian pork supplies in the coming months. Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development announced that the first deliveries of pork to the Chinese market are scheduled for the second to third quarter of 2024. However, the delay is due to regulatory procedures that Russia must pass before launching deliveries. These procedures include signing a protocol on the requirements for pork supplies with China and exporters obtaining veterinary certificates and registering in the system of Chinese food suppliers.
The head of Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development, Maksim Reshetnikov, expressed optimism about the new trade opportunity, stating, “China holds the leading position globally in terms of the volume of pork consumption by the population. We consider the Chinese market the most promising for the supply of our domestic pork products.”
Yury Kovalev, the head of Russia’s National Union of Pork Producers, praised the lifting of the ban, attributing it to Russia’s extensive work to contain African swine fever and create a satisfactory control system. He emphasized the importance of introducing and amending import controls instead of imposing sweeping bans, considering that fewer and fewer countries are free of the virus.
However, Kovalev also acknowledged that Russia will face significant competition in the Chinese market. China currently imports between 2.5 and 3 million tons of pork products annually. Despite the competition, Kovalev believes that even capturing a small percentage of the Chinese market would be a great success for Russia, potentially doubling the volume of its total pork product exports.
In September, Rosselkhoznadzor registered ten cases of pork infected with African swine fever in Russian stores. While the virus is not dangerous for humans, it is easily transmitted and deadly for pigs. The use of food waste for livestock feed is identified as one of the main reasons for the spread of ASF.
The lifting of the pork ban between China and Russia presents new opportunities for both countries. China can diversify its pork imports, while Russia has access to one of the world’s largest pork-consuming markets.