TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) announced Wednesday (Feb. 19) that live pigs and pork products from Italy will no longer be permitted into the country.
The bureau said that the decision was made after officials conducted "a rolling assessment of the international outbreak of African swine fever (ASF)." It pointed out that there are signs suggesting the ASF epidemic is escalating on the Italian island of Sardinia and that the bureau has decided not to risk importing pork from the European country, reported CNA.
The BAPHIQ added that travelers are not allowed to bring undeclared Italian pork products into Taiwan and warned that any individuals violating the regulation will be issued an NT$200,000 (US$6,629) fine for their first offense and an NT$1 million for their second. The bureau said it will lift the ban once Italy is declared clear of ASF, reported New Talk.
Although the ban was primarily aimed at preventing ASF from spreading to Taiwan, many netizens and political experts suspect that it was payback for the Italian government suspending flights from Taiwan until April 28 due to Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) fears. Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has expressed disappointment in Italy's decision to follow information provided by the World Health Organization listing Taiwan as a province of China.