Romania raises import tax to protect poultry farms

ROMANIA - Romania raised custom duties on poultry imports to protect domestic producers hit by sagging consumption due to worries about the deadly bird flu virus, the government said on Monday.

The Black Sea state has found avian flu in fowl in 29 villages since its first outbreak in October. Poultry companies said dwindling consumption had triggered losses of millions of euros, bringing the sector to the brink of collapse.

"The government decided to raise custom duties to 70 percent from 45 percent for six months in a bid to protect producers who amassed huge stocks because of bird flu (fears)," government spokeswoman Oana Marinescu told a news briefing.

Last month, poultry producers urged the government to raise customs duties to as much as 90 percent as imports had risen by 30 percent as consumers switched to meat from the United States and Brazil, the world's top poultry exporters.

The United States and Brazil account for 83 percent of Romania's poultry imports. The association of poultry producers welcomed higher duties.

"It's a very good news for us. He hope that within six months the hard hit sector would be able to revive itself," Ilie Van, chief of Romania's Poultry Producers Association, told Reuters.

Losses since Romania detected its first bird flu case, mainly from lower sales and higher storage costs, had reached 124 million lei ($42 million).

On Saturday, authorities found new suspected bird flu cases in the Danube delta and confirmed the presence of the virus in a nearby village. Last week, Romania confirmed the presence of the H5 type in poultry in the south of the country near the border with Bulgaria.

Source: Reuters
calendar icon 13 February 2006
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