End of Saudi embargo on Brazilian beef is nearer

A Brazilian mission headed by Agriculture minister Neri Geller has travelled to the Arab country and discussed a technical visit to Brazil, one of the final steps before Saudi Arabia returns to importing cattle meat.


Brazil-FlagSão Paulo – A team from Saudi Arabia is paying a technical visit to Brazil as one of the final steps before the Saudi market is reopened to beef from Brazilian meat companies. The visit was discussed during a trip of the Brazilian minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, Neri Geller, to the Arab country last Sunday (9th), alongside beef industry organizations and professionals, including the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce Institutional Relations manager, Tamer Mansour.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply this Monday (10th), Geller met with his Saudi counterpart, minister Fahd Bin Abdulrahman Balghunaim, and Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Meshal, CEO of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) – the Arab country’s agricultural imports authority.

The ministry reports that the lifting of the embargo now hinges solely on the technical visit and the ensuing signing of a decree on the matter by king Abdullah. Saudi Arabia banned Brazilian beef purchases two years ago, after an atypical case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) – aka mad cow disease – was reported in Brazil in December 2012. Other countries also embargoed the product, including Egypt, but most have already gone back to buying Brazilian beef. Japan, Saudi Arabia and Peru still have embargoes in place, despite the fact that the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) ranks Brazil’s risk status for mad cow disease as “negligible.”

Mansour sensed that there is “good will” on the part of Saudi authorities when it comes to lifting the ban. According to him, the Saudi technical visit to Brazil may take place before the end of November, and therefore the ban may end before the end of this year. In a statement from the ministry, Geller asserts that the market’s recovery even further strengthens Brazil’s position as a role model in meeting the growing global demand for food.

Saudi Arabia is a major market for Brazilian beef. Prior to the embargo, in 2012, Saudi Arabia imported US$ 164 million worth of beef from Brazil. In the preceding year, 2011, imports amounted to US$ 136.6 million, as per figures from the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade compiled by the Arab Chamber. In these two years, Saudi Arabia was the leading Arab market for Brazilian beef.

According to information from the Ministry of Agriculture, other countries near Saudi Arabia also have embargoes in place against Brazilian beef, and since these countries follow the Saudis on the matter, they should clear imports as soon as the Saudis do.

The delegation that travelled to Saudi Arabia also comprised the Agriculture Ministry’s International Relations secretary Marcelo Junqueira, Department for Inspection of Animal Products (DIPOA, in the Portuguese acronym) director Leandro Feijó, and technicians, as well as executives from industry organizations such as the Association of Brazilian Beef Exporters (Abiec) and the Brazilian Animal Protein Association (ABPA), and from the Arab Chamber. After Saudi Arabia, the group travelled to China and Malaysia.