April 2, 2010
Mystery still surrounds China's decision to put a 12-month embargo on wool from declared Rift Valley Fever (RVF) districts in South Africa. While RVF is an internationally notifiable disease, Organization International Enzootics (OIE) protocol is that wool and skin products from RVF areas are not dangerous and need no embargo.
Informed sources in the trade speculate the ban has more to do with bargaining about trade issues and lower import/export standards than with health concerns.
President of the National Wool Growers Association (NWGA) Petrus de Wet said his organization is discussing the crisis with the state vet and the OIE in France.
"South Africa and China are both signatories to OIE and therefore bound by OIE protocol. We are doing our best to get role players to understand our stance and for the situation to return to normal," de Wet said.
General manager of fiber trading at BKB Martin Schwellnus said the withdrawal of buyers in the Chinese grease-wool market could depress prices on affected clips by up to 8 percent.
The situation could, however, benefit local processors who can still bid on wool coming from RVF districts.
In related news, it was reported that on Wednesday, China signed a package of deals with South Africa to purchase products worth more than US$300 million. The deals are the biggest ever single purchase China has made from South Africa.
Nearly 30 corporations in the two countries are involved, covering products like wool, mohair, fishmeal, bulk wine, copper, wood pulp and chrome ore.
China has become South Africa's biggest trade partner and exporter as bilateral trade volume hit a historic high of more than US$16 million in 2009, which was more than 10 times that in 1998 when the two countries forged diplomatic ties.
Reprinted in part from meattradenewsdaily.com