Although the COVID-19 pandemic initially began in China, the country claims its cases are now under control. This significant drop in China’s COVID-19 cases is mainly due to the country’s efforts. In fact, to prevent further spread of the virus, China has imposed certain restrictions on meat, poultry, and fish imports, which has, in turn, caused frustration and outrage from its key exporters.
Claims of COVID-19 Being Found on Food Imports Fuel Import Restrictions
China has taken strict measures to ensure that no new outbreaks will occur ever since its successful control of the virus in March. These restrictions on imported food, the Chinese government believes, are an essential part of these measures. This decision came shortly after frozen meat and other packaged foods were found contaminated with the virus.
However, these impositions have frustrated some of China’s major trading partners, like New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, who is confident that no contaminated meat has left the country. Thus, in November, the Chinese government defended its choice, calling it “reasonable and justifiable” and necessary in protecting public health. Many other countries have also been hit hard by China’s restrictions, including the US, Argentina, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, the Netherlands, and Russia, which have already been struggling economically from the effects of prolonged lockdown measures.
China’s Trade Relationships in Jeopardy
Since June, China’s customs authority has requested companies exporting food to China to sign declarations confirming that their goods have not been contaminated by COVID-19. In the same month, Beijing began testing imported food to prevent infected products from entering the market after an outbreak in one of its markets. Moreover, Beijing’s primary port, Tianjin, began testing all meat containers as well.
While the measures may have helped China curb the COVID-19 virus, they have undoubtedly caused frustrations amongst food-producing countries relying on China. Many believe that the restrictions are far too aggressive and unnecessary, prompting China to defend its food import controls.
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