China has agreed to recognize zones that will allow for the continuation of pork exports from France in the event that African swine fever (ASF) is introduced into France. A favorable agreement was finally reached for effective implementation starting in December 2021 after nearly two years of negotiation (Négociations internationales, 2021).
France has been actively working to prevent ASF from entering the country, especially since the outbreaks in Belgium in 2018 (ASF: Situation, 2019). The efforts are redoubled since ASF was introduced into neighboring Germany in 2020. It is expected that it is only a matter of time until France may experience an incursion. The control of ASF is especially difficult, even for highly developed countries like Germany, due to the lack of a vaccine, to the persistence of the virus in the environment and pork products, and to spread of the virus via wild suids and especially due to human behavior. France has thus prepared an action plan for the prevention, surveillance, and control of ASF (Plan d’actions, 2018) and has launched a nation-wide awareness campaign (Peste porcine africaine, n.d.). Guidelines for defining an infected zone are part of the action plan.
China is the largest pork export market for the European Union including France alone, with Chinese demand for pork surging since ASF was introduced in 2018 (Reuters, 2021). The recognition of zones will allow for the continuation of exports of French pork products to China from ASF-free areas in France in the event of an ASF outbreak. This agreement is the first of its kind signed by China benefiting a European Union country and is thus a potential model for future agreements globally.
While zoning demarcates areas that are geographically ASF-free, another strategy for trade continuation in the face of ASF is compartmentalization. Compartmentalization involves the grouping of swine facilities along the value chain that meet a defined standard of biosecurity. The World Organisation for Animal Health’s (OIE) has published compartmentalization guidelines for ASF specifically to help swine industries ensure they meet the biosecurity standards and recommendations for business continuity in the face of ASF (Pfeiffer et al., 2021).
With tools such as zoning and compartmentalization, it may be possible that swine industries globally can continue operating and trading despite the presence of ASF virus in many countries.
ASF: Situation and measures implemented in France. (2019). The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed - Ministère de l'Agriculture et de l'Alimentation. https://ec.europa.eu/food/system/files/2019-01/reg-com_ahw_20190116_asf_fra.pdf
Négociations internationales: signature d’un accord avec la Chine préservant les exportations françaises en cas de peste porcine africaine. (2021). Ministère de l'Agriculture et de l'Alimentation. https://agriculture.gouv.fr/signature-dun-accord-avec-la-chine-preservant-les-exportations-francaises-en-cas-de-peste-porcine
Peste porcine africaine (PPA): agir pour prévenir. (n.d.). Ministère de l'Agriculture et de l'Alimentation. https://agriculture.gouv.fr/peste-porcine-africaine
Plan d’actions- Organisation de la prévention, de la surveillance et de la lutte contre lapeste porcine africaine. (2018). Ministère de l'Agriculture et de l'Alimentation. https://agriculture.gouv.fr/telecharger/91407?token=f9070085791dc666ca22fdb837264632652a5468fab0911abbdeeff63b4bef62
Pfeiffer, D.U., Ho, H.P.J., Bremang, A., Kim, Y. & OIE team (2021). Compartmentalisation Guidelines – African Swine Fever. World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Paris, France, 148pp. https://www.oie.int/fileadmin/Home/eng/Animal_Health_in_the_World/docs/pdf/ASF/ASF-CompartmentalisationGuidelines_EN.pdf
Reuters. (2021). France, China agree regional approach to pig disease and trade. https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/france-says-china-agrees-regional-approach-pig-disease-trade-2021-12-13/
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