The Commission said that it would be extending its ban to Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, Pakistan and Thailand. The current suspension, announced when the outbreak was first bought to light at the end of last year, was due to expire on 15 August.
The Commission said that it was continuing to implement the ban in these specific countries because further outbreaks of avian flu have been reported since the beginning of the year. Only this month further outbreaks have caused increasing pressures for poultry producers across the region as new outbreaks have been reported following several months without reports of new cases.
Poultry producers in the region have been blaming the spread of the latest outbreaks on wild birds, claiming that they have been transporting the disease from farm to farm. However, a recent statement by the World Health Organisation said that wild birds presented a minimal risk to the spread of the disease and that poultry farmers should firmly stick to its agreed preventative measures which have widely been introduced by government authorities throughout the region.
Meanwhile poultry farmers in the region have been counting the devastating costs of the outbreak, which has led to more than 100 million birds being culled. Furthermore affected farms have had to go through costly quarantine measures that involve rigorous sterilisation procedures and also mean that farms cannot be restocked for at least two months.
Thailand, which in recent years has built up a significant industry supplying ready-to-eat poultry products across the globe, has been particularly hard hit by the outbreak. Before the disease first appeared to be out of control the country had built up significant trade with fast food and supermarket businesses in both Europe and North America. In 2003 the country was the fourth largest poultry exporter in the world, with up to 90 per cent of total production being exported.
Meanwhile, in an effort to regain some of its export business, the Thai government has announced a string of initiatives to try and break into new markets, focusing on developing countries. Following on from this theThai government announced at the end of last week that it was opening up an extended credit line to supply chicken to Bangladesh. The government has said that any poultry products supplied to the country will be guaranteed as free from avian flu.