THE monetary value of Thai pig exports to Cambodia increased by a staggering 35,205 percent between 2007 and 2009, according to an unreleased report from USAID’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) agency, a jump one analyst said coincided with Hong Kong’s decision to reject Thai pigs.
Curtis Hundley, chief of party at MSME, said the decision had probably been made in response to concerns about foot-and-mouth disease, but Hong Kong officials have not confirmed this.
“Almost all of the live pig exports were to Cambodia and Laos because the Thais cannot contain their foot-and-mouth disease problem,” Hundley said Tuesday, and added that a failed attempt by Thailand to expand pig exports in Hong Kong and China had left “a huge number of animals in the feed lots”.
“So instead of allowing all these pigs to enter and destroy the Thai markets, they simply ship them over to Cambodia and Laos – and kill the industry of their neighbours,” he said.
We were not aware that the pigs had diseases, so from now on we will have to check.
Andrew Stephens, a senior trade adviser at MSME, noted that it was not confirmed that Hong Kong had shunned Thai pigs because of disease concerns, though he said a dip in demand from China may have left Thai producers with “nowhere else to go”.
Hun Hean, the police chief for Banteay Meanchey province, where much cross-border trade between Thailand and Cambodia takes place, said Tuesday that roughly 450 Thai pigs are being transported into Cambodian each day, but noted that they are brought in by licenced companies.
“We were not aware that the pigs had diseases, so from now on we will have to check, and if we find out that the pigs have diseases we will stop them,” he said.
He added that any attempt to crack down on diseased pigs would be difficult because traders “don’t care about the health of local people”.
Earlier this month, Svay Rieng Governor Chheang Am issued a statement instructing all relevant authorities, including those operating border checkpoints, to “immediately cease all imports of pork and live pigs” from Vietnam, in order to prevent a potential “epidemic” of diseases including foot-and-mouth disease and porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome (PRRD).