Russia Keeps Embargo on Brazilian Meat Imports18 December 2012
RUSSIA-BRAZIL - The intervention of President Dilma Rousseff was not enough to convince the Russian government to lift the ban on meat imports from three Brazilian states, in place for a year and a half.
The Brazilian Pork Export Association ABIPECS said that expectations of the industry announcement of an agreement have been thwarted and the Moscow authorities said they were still analysing documents and information submitted by Brazil.
At a news conference, Mr Rousseff said that the Ministry of Agriculture of Brazil "was wrong" when informed two weeks ago that Russia had decided to resume imports of beef from Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná and Mato Grosso.
Besides the Russian embargo, Brazil faces problems related to the confirmation of a case of mad cow disease in 2010, which led Japan, South Africa and China to announce a halt to imports of Brazilian beef.
The president said the government is investigating the reasons for the delay of 14 months in the disclosure of the problem, which hit an animal Paraná. The delay raised suspicions of lack of transparency and interference in health surveillance.
"For the embargoes by China and Japan, we will strive to clarify the situation, because it is a very localised," said Rousseff.
The authorities said that in its opinion, the measures are "absolutely normal" and were taken by the governments of these countries to "protect their populations."
At the weekend, the Brazilian met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called for an end to the embargo on the three states, imposed in June 2011 because of alleged health problems unrelated to the suspected BSE case.
In the interview, the president also was mistaken and argued that the restriction only affects pork - it actually covers cattle, pigs and chickens.
"I expressed the expectation for prompt restoration of the pork trade of our country and end the ban on three Brazilian States," said the Brazxilian president, who was with Mr Putin at a press conference after they met in the Kremlin.
The president stressed that the Russian side has not been affected by the BSE issue.
Before meeting with Mr Putin, representatives of the meat industry that formed the Brazilian delegation expressed the hope that the embargo would be lifted.
"I hope the president gets a birthday present from President Putin - the resumption of imports and maintenance of purchases from Brazil," said the vice president of Institutional Relations of Marfrig, João de Almeida Sampaio. The president turned 65 last week.
He said the impact of the suspension of Brazilian beef imports by Japan, China and South Africa is minimal, since they account for less than one per cent of the exports sector.
"I would be surprised if the embargo is lifted," said Pedro de Camargo Neto, chief executive of the Association of Producers and Exporters of Beef (Abipecs) before the meeting between the presidents.
President Rousseff failed to get and end to the embargo, but got agreement in the case of certification of pork that led to the suspension of shipments a week ago. The two countries have passed a certification process whereby producers will prove that pigs exported to Russia not fed ractopamine - a food additive that reduces fat and increases the amount of meat on the animal.
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