The U.S. and Canada are taking a collaborative approach to the threat of African Swine Fever entering North America.

On Wednesday, May 23, the two countries announced if an outbreak is detected in either country, they will allow continued trade of live swine, swine semen, pet food, meat and animal by-products.

African Swine Fever is a highly contagious disease killing pigs in Africa, Asia and parts of Europe, however, it poses no food safety risks.

Canada's Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Jaspinder Komal, says they have tools in place so business can continue in the event of an outbreak.

"We can actually zone the infected area and then continue to have safe trade from the non-infected areas," he said.

Zoning involves defining geographical boundaries to contain an outbreak, which are established in accordance with the World Organization for Animal Health guidelines.

All levels of governments and industry representatives at the International African Swine Fever Forum held earlier this month in Ottawa echoed the importance of zoning and safe trade.

Dr. Komal notes this is the first time Canada and the U.S. have been working together on prevention before a disease is detected.

"I've never seen so much engagement from our colleagues in the U.S. and how much on the same page we are on this, and then also the engagement from the international community."

He says they've also been working closely with Mexico to address the global threat, but they haven't joined this continued trade initiative yet.

Canada is the third largest pork exporting country in both value and volume, representing about 20 per cent of world pork trade.