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China clampdown on illegal meat risks US$2 billion trade

Published: 08 Jan, 2020

China’s crackdown on illegal meat imports has left India, one of the biggest exporters of buffalo meat, scrambling for a new buyer.

China has adopted stricter border controls due to African swine fever, meaning Indian buffalo meat exports into China that usually flow through Vietnam has all but stopped. Indian exporters are now hoping Indonesia can more than triple its meat imports from the South Asian nation to make up for the heavy losses this year.

Tighter border controls in China have hurt a black market meat trade that’s normally worth about US$2 billion a year. India can not directly sell buffalo meat to China due to a ban by Beijing since 2001 following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

China, the biggest consumer of pork, has boosted beef and other meat imports as consumers seek alternatives following the deadly swine disease that has killed millions of pigs.

Indian shipments of buffalo meat and offal to China via Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand and Hong Kong, has slumped 23% from a year earlier to 14,645 containers this year to October, according to data compiled by the All India Meat and Livestock Exporters Association. Government figures showed exports to Vietnam, India’s biggest buyer, dropped 34% to 202,873 tonnes in the six months ended in September.

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