It has been nearly two months since the Chinese authorities temporarily suspended wool imports from SA because of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak earlier in 2019. Recent communication from domestic wool industry group Cape Wools SA, following a meeting with its Chinese counterpart, suggests there could be further delays before the suspension is lifted due to recent changes to Chinese government departments such as agriculture and customs, and the outbreak of African swine fever in some parts of China. These are the Chinese agricultural ministry’s current priorities. Depending on how this matter unfolds in the coming weeks, there are likely to be implications for the agricultural trade balance in 2019, as wool is among the top 10 exportable agricultural commodities in SA. In 2018, wool accounted for 4% of SA’s agricultural exports of $10.6bn. What makes the Chinese decision to suspend SA wool imports particularly concerning is their contribution to total domestic exports. Over ...

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