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S.Africa welcomes China lifting wool import ban after animal disease scare

CAPE TOWN, Aug 23 (Reuters) - South Africa welcomed a decision by China on Tuesday lifting restrictions on imported wool products imposed following an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, two South African ministers said.

Last week, South Africa suspended all movement of cattle nationwide for 21 days in a bid to halt the spread of foot and mouth, a highly infectious animal disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals including pigs and sheep but poses a very low risk to people.

"We welcome the decision by the General Administration of Customs of China and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs to lift the ban on the wool and other cloven-hoofed animals' skin products imported from South Africa as announced today," South Africa's ministers of trade and agriculture said in a joint statement.

South Africa produces over 42 million kilograms (92.6 million pounds) of wool from 8,000 commercial sheep farmers, the ministers said, adding that the industry would have suffered a loss of around 730 million rand ($43.00 million) had the ban not been lifted.

($1 = 16.9778 rand) (Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Anait Miridzhanian and Bill Berkrot)

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