The Brazilian agriculture ministry (Mapa) is sending a trade delegation to Egypt and Iran in an attempt to restart embargoed beef shipments and improve systems for importing poultry.
Egypt and Iran imposed bans on beef produced in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, following the identification of a case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (BSE), while Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait banned all Brazilian beef imports. Brazilian authorities, backed up by the World Organisation for Animal Health, have insisted the case was “atypical” and Mato Grosso beef is safe to eat.
Big beef buyers
Both countries are major markets for Brazilian beef, with Iran importing US$200m in the first four months of 2014, and Egypt importing US$175m. Business between Brazil and Egypt has increased dramatically this year, thanks to an increasingly stable social and economic climate in Egypt, with total monthly agribusiness imports from Brazil rising 95% from July 2013 to last month, reaching US$197m.
Mapa international relations secretary Marcelo Junqueira told the Arab-Brazilian News Agency the delegation wants to show the governments of both countries that “Brazil's animal health is on par with the best in the world” and that most markets that had banned imports after the occurrence of the case have already resumed imports.
“We hope to come back to Brazil with these issues solved,” said Junqueira.
The Mapa delegation will also discuss Egypt’s inspection regime for Brazilian poultry imports, which currently require cargo-by-cargo inspection, instead of random sampling. Mapa is aiming to ease this requirement, speeding up the import process and cutting costs for Brazilian firms.
“We will hear their position on this and find out the reason for this requirement, since other countries do not impose this obligation,” Junqueira said.
Poultry exports slide
Brazil’s poultry exports to the Middle East – by far its largest market for poultry – have fallen so far this year, down 8% from the same period last year to 799,900 tonnes to the end of July. Saudi Arabia was the biggest single importer, buying 381,000 tonnes, down 5.6% on last year.
Egypt’s Brazilian poultry exports have fallen 16% by value in the year to July, reaching US$73.4m. While Mapa did not provide details of poultry shipment volumes to Egypt, using the global average price of Brazilian poultry suggests Egypt has imported around 37,000 tonnes so far this year.
The Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce is accompanying the delegation to Egypt, where its officials will meet Arab League representatives to discuss implementing an online system to certify exports. The Chamber is the only organisation in Brazil authorised by the Arab League to certify exports.