Pig meat trade between the United States and the European Union has been protected following a new agreement over animal health controls in operation in Europe.

The European Commission has welcomed the recent move by the U.S. to recognize its animal health regionalization system, which was put in place to contain the spread of African swine fever (ASF). With trade in pork products between the EU and the U.S. valued at around EUR335 million (US$380 million) in 2014, the announcement by the U.S. will help to avoid trade disruptions in the event of an outbreak of a disease.

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"This significant move reflects the confidence of the United States, one of our major trading partners, in our robust system to control animal diseases,” said Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU Commissioner in charge of Health and Food Safety. “It comes at a time when pig farmers across the EU face particular difficulties. It is of crucial importance that unjustified restrictions on imports of European pork are lifted."

In the U.S. Federal Register notice, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recognizes any EU region that the EU or any EU Member State has placed under restriction because of ASF. In so doing, APHIS recognizes the EU as a single entity with a single animal health legislation, veterinary oversight and disease control programs. The significance of this notice is that, rather than carrying out its own assessment, the U.S. will accept EU decisions regarding regions affected by ASF.