BANGKOK, Feb 22 (Reuters) Thailand today said it had suspended imports of breeder chickens from seven European countries recently hit by bird flu, including France and Germany.
''We have initially suspended the imports for 90 days and will reconsider later whether to resume them,'' said senior Agriculture Ministry official Nirandorn Uangtrakulsook.
The other restricted countries are Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria, he said.
Thailand, which was the world's fourth-largest poultry exporter before bird flu broke out in late 2003, relies on foreign breeder chickens for its domestic broiler farms.
Key breeder suppliers are Europe, the United States and Australia, Nirandorn said, adding that Thailand had already imported nearly 2 million so far this year.
In 2005, Thailand imported 2.98 million breeders, valued at 18 million dollars, according to figures from the Livestock Department.
Thailand has had no fresh bird flu outbreak in poultry for 105 days, but has yet to pronounce itself free of bird flu.
REUTERS SHR KN1712