Taiwan bans Italian pig imports in quarrel over flight ban

Reuters

Posted at Feb 20 2020 07:31 PM

Customers wearing face masks shop at the pork counter of a supermarket following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei province, China February 12, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS

ROME - Taiwan on Wednesday imposed a ban on live pigs and pork product imports from Italy following Rome's suspension of flights between the 2 countries in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Italy stopped all flights between the country and Taiwan, China as well as Hong Kong and Macau on Jan. 31 to stop the spread of the virus.

"Deletion of recognition of Italy as a country free of African swine fever," a statement published by the Taiwan's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine said.

Rome's flight ban did not play well in Taipei, which summoned Italy's representative Davide Giglio to urge a speedy resumption of flights.

Beijing was also not happy with the ban and has lobbied to have it lifted but so far with no success.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said earlier this month that the block on flights was an emergency measure.

"We will keep it in place as long as health authorities and... the scientific community tell us we should."

Taiwan's imports of commercial goods from Italy amounted to $2.6 billion in 2019 with machinery, chemical products, leather, vehicles and textiles leading the list, according to the Taipei's representative office in Rome.

The website of Taiwan's state-owned Central News Agency reported the Taiwan government as saying: "After conducting a rolling assessment of the international outbreak of African swine fever, the bureau has concluded that the epidemic on the Italian island of Sardinia is escalating."