SLOVAKIA has joined the EU ban on imports of poultry, poultry meat, and eggs from the USA because of a bird flu occurrence in Texas, the TASR news wire reported.
Agriculture Minister Zsolt Simon, after attending a session of EU ministers on Tuesday, said: "We are proceeding in harmony with the EU as if we were already a member, which means that our State Veterinary Administration will adopt such a ban in a very short time."
However, the ban on poultry imports from the USA will not significantly affect Slovakia.
"For all of last year we imported from the USA some 272 kilograms of poultry meat and about 80 kilograms of eggs, so this is not a volume large enough to affect the Slovak market," he explained.
On the other hand, he noted that Slovak producers and exporters could take advantage of the European embargo, which was the case last year with a similar ban adopted by Belgium.
"Now that the EU has approved the ban towards the USA, it's possible to expect slight shortages on its market, which could bring opportunities to our producers," he said.
The EU imports about 450,000 pieces of chicken (half of total imports) and 13 million eggs from the USA every year. Some time ago, the EU banned imports of poultry from Thailand, one of the centres of the recent bird flu outbreak in east Asia.
1. Mar 2004 at 0:00 | From press reports