Iraq, one of the world's top chicken meat buyers, extended
to three more European countries a ban on poultry imports in the latest trade curb
caused by bird flu outbreaks in countries from Chile to China.
Iraq - the fifth-ranked broiler meat importer, with purchases
of 670,000 tonnes last year, according to the US Department of Agriculture –
said it would no longer accept imports of live and frozen poultry imports from Finland,
Serbia and Britain.
The Middle Eastern country, which itself last year suffered
its first outbreak in 10 years of the highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu virus, had
already banned imports from more than 20 countries, since more than a year ago barring
buy-ins of French poultry products.
The extension of the curbs represents the latest in a series
of trade disruptions caused by outbreaks of various bird flu strains, the spread
of which is seen as having been encouraged by seasonal bird migrations.
In the UK, H5N8 bird flu was on Monday confirmed at a southern
English swannery – the same strain as reported over the weekend in a flock of
chickens and ducks in northern England, and identified too in a Welsh backyard
flock last week, and at a turkey farm in eastern England last month.
Other countries which have reported recent bird flu cases
include the Czech Republic and Taiwan, which on Sunday reported an outbreak at
a chicken farm, prompting the extermination of more than 2,600 chickens birds.
China last week reported its second death in two weeks from
bird flu, of the H7N9 variety, when a 62-year man died in Hong Kong, to which
he had travelled from mainland China.
Guangzhou, in southern China, said on Monday it was to ban
trade in live and slaughtered poultry for three-day periods during January to
March in a bid to stop the spread of bird flu, following restrictions in Anhui,
Fujian and Jiangsu provinces.
South Korean epidemic
But bird flu has been a particular problem in South Korea,
where more than 31m birds have been slaughtered at farms in an effort to quell
an outbreak which began in November.
The cull has cost the country about 17% of its chicken
flock, and 28% of farmed ducks.
The country is in talks over reopening to US exports of
shell eggs, which were banned after a US outbreak of bird flu in 2015.
Meanwhile, Argentina has suspended bird and poultry imports
from Chile, which has discovered cases of bird flu it has described as of "low
pathogenicity, meaning this case poses little risk to animal health".
However, the disease is of concern too to grain markets,
given the potential for culls, if widespread enough, to curtail consumption of
"Bird flu concerns continue to put a damper on feed demand
but we believe the trade has yet to really see the impact on this event until
evidence global feedgrain trade slows," said Terry Reilly at Chicago broker