Emerging Export Markets For EU Beef

EU - Trade officials confirmed late last week that Brazil has lifted its ban on imports of EU beef and breeding cattle, write market experts at the Livestock and Meat Commission Northern Ireland.
calendar icon 29 May 2013
clock icon 2 minute read

The lifting of the ban, which has been in place since 2001 after concerns around BSE, will allow exports to recommence.

The opening of this potential market has come about after the EU expressed concerns that the trade restriction in operation until now was overly restrictive, scientifically unjustified and went beyond international standards.

While the lifting of the ban has opened a potential market for EU beef, and perhaps more importantly breeding cattle, Brazilian legislation continues to require bilateral approval procedures and the accreditation of establishments before exports can occur.

EU officials have described this process as overly burdensome, non transparent and lengthy. Food exports from the EU to Brazil totalled €1.5 billion in 2012.

The EU is also currently in trade talks with the US and if the proposed comprehensive free trade agreement is successful it has the potential to boost European Agri-food exports by €17 billion each year according to the European Parliament.

The lifting of a ban on EU beef imports is expected to be a key element of these trade talks. The ban on imports of EU beef has been in place since 1997 amid concerns around BSE. The implications of this development for trade in the opposite direction remain to be seen.

The US Dept of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has indicated that scientific knowledge and international guidelines show that boneless beef does not present a risk of BSE transmission.

With this in mind they have advocated the adoption of the same criteria and categories that the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) uses to identify a country’s BSE risk status.

The potential opening of this market presents an important opportunity for the EU as the US is forecasted to be the biggest importer of beef in 2013 according to a report released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The US is forecast to import 1.16 million tonnes of beef in 2013, a 15pc increase on 2012. The report also indicates that beef production in the US for 2013 is forecasted to reach 11.4 million tonnes, down four per cent on the 2012 total.

The declining cow herd in the US in recent years has led to lower supplies of finished cattle coming forward for processing. This combined with a potential increase in the number of heifers retained for breeding during 2013 as producers try to rebuild herds is expected to result in a decline in domestic beef supplies in the US.

As a result the USDA has forecasted tighter cattle availability for slaughter in the US in 2014 which could create valuable opportunities for countries with access to this important market.

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