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Chinese Government took the lead to lift the ban on beef import from South Africa

On July 23, the Chinese government officially issued an announcement to lift the ban, allowing cloven-hoofed animals and related products from South Africa, except Limpopo Province, Ehlanzeni area of Mpumalanga Province, and Umkhanyakude area of KwaZulu-Natal Province, to be exported to China.

The Chinese government has already lifted the ban on South African wool and animal skin export to China as early as May 8. Both actions by China are the first of its kind in the international community. This decision is one of the most rapid actions of the same kind ever made by the Chinese Authorities.

It is known that since January this year, South Africa has experienced a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in some areas in Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga Province, and KwaZulu-Natal Province, and lost its status recognized by World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as FMD-free zone without vaccination. Therefore, considering the food safety and animal disease prevention and control, many countries in the world including China have no choice but to ban the import of cloven-hoofed animals and their products from South Africa since then, which caused serious loss to the agricultural industry in SA.

China always regards South Africa as the strategic pivot and priority in its foreign policy. As comprehensive strategic partners, China and South Africa share mutual understanding and fully support each other on issues of core interests and major concerns for the benefits of our two peoples. China is committed to supporting the South African government’s efforts led by H.E. President Ramaphosa, to boost economy to create jobs and improve people’s livelihood.

As a most important and reliable development partner of South Africa, China attaches great importance to South Africa’s request to resume the export of beef, animal skin, wool and other related products to China. China has kept close contact with the South African government to seek constructive solutions. The Embassy of China in SA has worked very hard and closely with our friends from DIRCO and Agriculture Department of SA. As ambassador of China to SA, I and my colleagues toured to some affected areas and local abattoirs and sent several strong, clear and timely messages back to the Chinese government. I am very happy the joint efforts we have made got very positive and quick response from the Chinese government.

In May, the Chinese government made an unique decision to lift the ban on wool and animal skins import. In early June, the Chinese government sent an expert team to South Africa to study the situations of FMD in SA.

During the meeting with H.E. President Cyril Ramaphosa on the sideline of the G20 Osaka summit, upon the request from SA side, H.E. President Xi Jinping promised to lift the ban as early as possible to resume the beef import from SA. Just less than one month after the meeting of our two heads of state, the ban on beef import from SA has been officially lifted while the OIE did not complete its procedure to resume South Africa’s status of FMD-free zone without vaccination.

The friend in need is a friend indeed. China is the largest consuming market for SA’s beef, wool and animal skins product. The decision made by the Chinese government to lift the ban without the OIE status is not only a practical but also a pioneering action to deepen our mutually-beneficial cooperation, it fully demonstrates our strong political commitment to supporting the economic and social transformation and development of South Africa. Its great significance goes far beyond itself. It will surely send a strong message to the international community and will definitely challenge the OIE to speed up its procedure to resume SA’s status of FMD-free zone without vaccination, and encourage more countries to resume beef import from South Africa, so that SA would facilitate its agriculture development and help more people out of poverty. This is what China expects to see.

China, with a population of 1.4 billion people and 400 million mid-income population, is a huge consuming market for South African agricultural products. The beef export from South Africa to China will create more jobs and contribute tremendously to the the economic and rural development of South Africa.

China would like to work closely with South Africa to seize the opportunity and implement the consensus reached by the two Heads of State and the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit, so as to work more closely to strengthen our win-win cooperation for common development and make the China-South Africa comprehensive strategic partnership more productive and beneficial to our two countries and two peoples.

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