OTTAWA — China has reopened its borders to imports of Canadian pork — a possible signal of goodwill as Prime Minister Stephen Harper flies to visit the Asian giant for his first official visit.
The huge Chinese market was closed to Canadian pork products in May after the swine flu virus was found in pigs on an Alberta farm.
China continues to ban live swine imports.
The ban was described as "disappointing and unwarranted" by International Trade Minister Stockwell Day at the time, and public health officials said it had no scientific basis.
"This development is important for our trading relationship with China and it shows that they have taken a first step towards recognizing international standards in relation to dealing with H1N1," Day said in a statement Tuesday.
"We will continue to work closely with our Chinese counterparts to make sure that trade flows freely between our countries."
Harper left Tuesday for Beijing, and the Conservatives announced later in the House of Commons that the pork ban was being lifted.
Pierre Lemieux, who serves as the junior agriculture minister, called the move "great news for our pork producers, who now have renewed access to a $50 million-a-year market."
There is no evidence that consuming pork products can transmit the swine flu, a point Canada has emphasized in negotiations with China over the pork ban.