Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi announced China’s “total reopening of the market for Brazilian meat” in a statement released Saturday by the ministry’s press office. “This testifies categorically to the solidity and quality of the Brazilian sanitary system and is a victory for our exporting capacity,” he wrote. Chile and Egypt also confirmed changes to their bans.
Operation Weak Flesh, the Brazilian police investigation into allegations that inspectors were bribed to approve the sale of tainted meat, dealt a body blow to the country’s agricultural industry. Brazil accounts for about 20 percent of global beef exports and almost 40 percent of chicken exports. Twenty-five countries put some kind of restriction on Brazilian meat imports in the wake of the scandal. The first available data from the Trade Ministry showed meat exports plunged 99.9 percent from the daily average to $74,000 on Tuesday.
China, including Hong Kong, is the biggest export market for Brazilian meat, buying about a third of the $5.5 billion of beef shipped from Latin America’s largest economy last year, according to the meat exporters’ group Abiec. Hong Kong’s restrictions on Brazilian meat remain in place.
According to the ministry of agriculture, China’s ban on Brazilian products will be suspended on Monday, with the exception of meat processed in 21 plants still under investigation by Brazilian authorities. Fifty-seven Brazilian meat-processing plants will be able to send their goods to China as they did before March 19, when Chinese customs stopped accepting all Brazilian meat imports for inspection, in accordance with a government order.
President Michel Temer welcomed China’s ruling and described it in a statement as recognition of Brazil’s agricultural-defense system. Temer said on Thursday he intended to call the Chinese premier to clarify the situation.
Chinese government officials couldn’t be reached for comment. Zhang Lian from Yadongsheng Import-Export Ltd, who has 270 tonnes of frozen Brazilian beef en route to Shanghai, said he had been notified of the decision and that import-processing would resume as usual next week.
Also on Saturday, Chile’s Agriculture and Livestock Service said that it was modifying its ban on Brazilian meat imports to prohibit only those products from plants under investigation. Egypt also resumed imports from authorized slaughterhouses, the agriculture ministry said in a statement.