US regains access to Saudi Arabia beef market

05 July 2016

Following the discovery of a case of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the US in 2012, Saudi Arabia instituted a ban on all US beef products. The Saudi Arabian and US governments have now come to an agreement that will reopen the Saudi market.

The US is the second major beef producing nation to be granted access to the Saudi beef market after a BSE-related ban, following the return of Brazilian beef to Saudi Arabia in early 2016.

The trade still requires the development of a certification program by the US Department of Agriculture to meet Saudi Arabia’s import requirements. It is unknown how long this process will take – by way of comparison, the Brazilian certification process took over six months.

The initial agreement is for beef and beef products from cattle under 30 months of age, with the restriction being lifted to 48 months of age following a phase-in period. Eligible products include boneless and bone-in beef, ground beef, processed beef and cattle offal.

In 2011 (the last full year before the ban), the US exported 5,196 tonnes swt of beef to Saudi Arabia (USDA).

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