China’s General Administration of Customs issued a notice (link in Chinese) on September 18 to allow the importation of breeding pigs from Ireland, effective immediately. This is a result of the Protocol on the Quarantine and Sanitary Conditions of China’s Import of Breeding Pigs from Ireland (《中华人民共和国海关总署与爱尔兰共和国农业、食品和海事部关于中国从爱尔兰输入种猪的检疫和卫生条件议定书》) signed between China and Ireland on September 15. The notice sets forth multiple requirements for Irish exporters and the Irish government before exporting pigs to China.

According to the notice, Ireland has confirmed that it is free of brucellosis, African swine fever, classical swine fever, swine infectious vesicular disease, foot-and-mouth disease and teschen disease, according to the standards of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Ireland also committed that when one of the above-mentioned diseases occurs, Ireland will notify all stakeholders in accordance with the OIE guidelines and immediately stop exporting breeding pigs to China.

Farms that export pigs to China should have no incidence of brucellosis, pseudorabies, porcine atrophic rhinitis, porcine infectious pleuropneumonia, transmissible gastroenteritis, tuberculosis, or positive test results for porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome for 3 years.

The exported breeding pigs must pass tests for six types of disease, including brucellosis, pseudorabies, porcine infectious pleuropneumonia, transmissible gastroenteritis, and three others. If one farm has more than 10% of pigs come back with positive test results, all pigs from the farm shall not be exported.

Pigs to be exported shall be put under quarantine in Ireland for no less than 30 days before exporting. Pigs under quarantine or transportation shall not pass through areas with severe infectious diseases related to pigs or come into contact with other animals.

Irish Minister of State Martin Heydon TD made the following statement when commenting on the deal between Ireland and China:

This agreement is a recognition of Ireland’s strong history of breeding and selling superior health status pigs to many overseas markets. The export of breeding pigs with economically important traits is a niche market opportunity. It reflects well on the breeding population developed by specialist Irish producers.

In the past, Ireland was only able to export frozen pork to China, according to a protocol (link in Chinese) signed in 2005. China is a world leading pork consumer and importer, as pork is the most favored and most consumed type of meat in the Chinese diet. China became the largest importer of Irish pork in 2021, according to China's Ministry of Commerce (link in Chinese).