China loosens Brazilian beef ban

beef exports china
Containers filled with frozen meat products at the Paranaguá Port, in southern Brazil. Photo: APPA

Negotiations between Brazil and China to reopen the Asian country to Brazilian beef took a positive step on Tuesday. China’s General Administration of Customs (GACC) authorized the unloading of meat shipments certified before September 4 — when exports were suspended following two atypical cases of mad cow disease in Mato Grosso and Minas Gerais.

The embargo cut Brazil’s beef exports by 43 percent in October — as China is the main buyer of Brazilian protein. Between January and September, the Asian giant gobbled up 58 percent of beef shipments from Brazil. The number of slaughtered cattle heads also dropped to its lowest level in 18 years at 1.9 million, per the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea). In August, over 2.7 million cattle heads were slaughtered.

The new GACC decision should clear just over 100 tons of applicable beef, according to Brazilian slaughterhouse association Abrafigo.

Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina said that negotiations are underway to lift the ban altogether, adding that she hopes it will happen before year end. Nevertheless, Ms. Cristina highlighted that the segment still is strong in Brazil and has sought other export destinations during the suspension from China.