APEC should better manage cross-border poultry transport

08-05-2006 | |

Amid bird flu outbreaks in many parts of the world, members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) should better deal with movement of fowls and livestock across borders, a FAO official HE Changchui said in Da Nang City.

Countries and regions should strengthen coordination, cooperation and dialogue at government level, as well as raise public awareness about the risk of bird flu spreading.

It is very hard to root out cross-border smuggling of livestock and fowls due to market factors, Changchui said, noting that APEC economies should focus on enhancing public awareness of their residents about the issue, and encouraging “safe trade in accordance with international standards”.

According to the FAO, over 200 million fowls have been culled in bird flu-hit countries and regions so far. Meanwhile, total loss caused to regional and international trade in poultry has been estimated at US$10-15 billion, including $1.2 billion in Thailand, the world’s 4th biggest fowl exporter, $200 million in Vietnam and $170 million in Indonesia.

US administration officials have said they, too, worry about the bird flu arriving through the estimated $10 billion US global trade in wild animals, pets and animal parts. Hundreds of federal agents from several government agencies are policing borders, ports, airports and other places.

Wild bird experts say the virus appears to be spreading along trade routes. They point to Africa’s first cases of bird flu, which were discovered at a farm in Nigeria in February.

Most of these outbreaks have not been directly related to the migration of birds. Between China and Vietnam for example, daily an estimated 4,500 chickens are smuggled across the border.

The H5N1 virus has shown up in samples taken from some of the confiscated birds.