Brazilian Supreme Court to rule on salt cod prices

codfish supreme court
Photo: Box Lab/Shutterstock

The Supreme Court is about to decide on manufactured goods tax rules for salt cod, one of the most expensive types of fish in the country — but ubiquitous in Easter lunches in Brazil.

The lawsuit was filed by a Brazilian company that buys raw cod from Norway. The company alleges that only in Brazil the fish is subject to industrial processes such as cleaning and salting. The problem is that, under Brazilian law, these processes deprive the Norwegian product of obtaining similar tax breaks as Brazilian fish, which is taxed as a manufactured good.

The matter has stalled in the Supreme Court since 2010. In 2011, justices ruled that this would be a landmark case, as it could apply to all matters of fish imports. Per Brazil’s Foreign Trade Secretariat, the country imported USD 51.8 million in fish in February, almost 33 percent more than in the same month last year.

So far, two justices have voted against a ruling. Justice Luís Roberto Barroso, the case’s rapporteur, said that the cod question is not a constitutional matter, and therefore it shouldn’t be analyzed by the Supreme Court. Justice Cármen Lúcia agreed.

If a majority follows, the case would go to the Superior Court of Justice (STJ), Brazil’s second-highest judicial body. Justices have until Friday to cast their opinions.