By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Tuesday, March 12th, Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture, Tereza Cristina, said that she was optimistic that talks to reopen the U.S. market for Brazil’s fresh beef will be successful after a nearly two year ban of beef imports coming from Brazil.
Cristina is part of the contingent accompanying Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro on his visit to the United States next week.
“I think [the expectation] is good,” exclaimed Cristina to reporters at a food industry event in São Paulo. “We are preparing documentation and will see if we can reopen this market so that all of Brazil’s meat-packers will be able to export to the U.S.”
The minister did not go into details regarding the “documentation” that was being prepared to entice the U.S. to reopen the beef market, but she did express hope that U.S. officials would show “good will” after Brazil had met every demand and request for information from officials regarding its fresh beef exports.
Aside from talks on reopening the beef market, the Minister Cristina told reporters she would like to discuss wider access to the U.S. market for Brazilian sugar, and Brazil’s own restrictions to U.S. ethanol imports.
The White House has yet to confirm the topics to be discussed between the U.S. administration and Minister Cristina.
In June 2017, the U.S. suspended all imports of fresh Brazilian beef after a high percentage of shipments failed to pass safety checks. At that time, reports indicated that as much as eleven percent of Brazil fresh beef products were failing inspection, well above the typical one percent rejection rate for other countries.
Russia followed suit in November 2017, banning all pork and beef imports from Brazil due the discovery of a banned growth hormone in several shipments.
Despite the irregularities, Brazil is currently the world’s largest beef exporter with about 1.6 million tons sold in 2018.