Singapore has banned the import of meat and dairy products from two further countries - Ireland and the Netherlands - as foot and mouth disease continues to spread in Europe. (For a discussion of the ban on British products see Watching Out for Consumers). This has prompted Australia to push for greater export levels of its meat products to Singapore.
The ban on Ireland's products (imposed by the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore and the Environment Ministry) includes pasteurised milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream and butter manufactured on or after March 2 2001. Products that are not banned include mayonnaise, chocolate, biscuits and evaporated milk.
A press statement from the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority said that less than 1% of milk and milk products were imported from Ireland in 2000. However, considering that Ireland is the fifth country to have its meat exports banned in the past month, the overall impact could be significant. Already 19.9% of the total supply of pork, 1.6% of beef and 8.4% of dairy products have been affected due to the recent suspensions.
The chief executive officer of Cold Storage (a supermarket chain) said that the publicity generated by the outbreak has caused a drop in beef sales. However, the sale of dairy products remains stable since stock from banned countries manufactured before March 2001 is still available. The spokesman for Shop N Save (another supermarket chain) said it would take some time before consumers realize that some products are no longer on sale.
The import of meat and dairy products from the Netherlands has also been banned. A joint statement from the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore and the Environment Ministry said that the ban will affect pork, mutton and game meats. The import of beef from the Netherlands was earlier suspended following the incidence of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy).
Last year, the Netherlands supplied 7,000 tonnes of frozen pork, the equivalent of 9.6% of Singapore's total pork supply. Frozen pork is used to manufacture other food items.
The banned dairy imports include pasteurised milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream and butter manufactured on or after March 1 2001. The order does not cover those products mentioned above in relation to Ireland. The Netherlands supplied only 7.63% of Singapore's milk and milk products last year. Most dairy products come from Australia and New Zealand.
Australia is using the situation in Europe to push for greater exports of meat products to Singapore and the rest of the region. The Queensland premier Peter Beattie has stated that his officials were taking every opportunity to showcase Australian meat products as safe during their trade visits to countries in Southeast Asia. He stated:
"Australia is an island continent. We don't have the problems of foot and mouth and mad cow disease ... Where people are concerned about what's happening with European beef, this is our chance to explain that we have clean beef."
Beattie said that he would meet government representatives and push for an increase in meat exports to Singapore. Australia supplies 37.8% of Singapore's pork and 18.6% of its beef. It remains one of only 12 countries allowed to export pork to Singapore.
For further information on this topic please contact Lawrence Teh at Rodyk & Davidson by telephone (+65 225 2626) or by fax (+65 225 1838) or by e-mail ([email protected]).
This update was extracted and edited from news in Singapore's The Straits Times.
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