US approves imports of fresh beef from Brazil

01 July 2015

According to MAPA (Brazilian Agriculture Ministry), the US government has decided to allow imports of chilled and frozen beef from Brazil, following long term negotiations dating back to 1999. Unlike Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Uruguay, Brazil has no specific quota and, in order to avoid the out-of-quota tariff (26.5%), will share access under the “other countries” quota of 64,805 tonnes swt.

There are currently 13 Brazilian states plus the “Distrito Federal” listed to supply chilled and frozen beef to the US, which, combined, represented 95% of total Brazilian beef exports for the January to May period this year. All states have Foot and Mouth Disease-free with vaccination status and are major beef producing regions.

Nevertheless, each beef plant will have to go through US evaluation on sanitary and food safety issues, and although Brazilian and US technicians expect beef plant certifications to be ready by August, processors have indicated that shipments would only occur later in the year.

Over the calendar year-to-date, the US “other countries” quota utilisation has reached 25,881 tonnes swt (or 40%), an increase of 17% year-on-year, mostly driven by higher shipments from Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The quota is also used by Ireland and some Central American countries and will be also shared with Brazil.

Furthermore, Central America countries have access to additional quota under CAFTA (Central America Free Trade Agreement). If the “Other Country” quota reaches 100% utilisation, the CAFTA-DR agreement would allow for limited country specific access for: Costa Rica 10,340 mt; El Salvador 100 mt; Honduras 500 mt; Nicaragua 10,000 mt; Dominican Republic 1,320 mt.

Brazilian beef exports during the first five months of 2015 declined 20% on the previous year, to 400,278 tonnes swt, largely due to lower imports from Russia, Hong Kong and Venezuela. The average beef export price dropped 6.5% year-on-year over the same period, to U$4.22/kg swt.

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