Riyadh – MENA Herald: Brazil and Saudi Arabia signed recently a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to open the Middle East to Brazilian beef exports, effectively drawing to a close a ban that has been in force for almost three years. The initiative was commemorated by a sanitary certificate handed by Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture Kátia Abreu, who represented the interests of Brazil in Saudi Arabia, as well as the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA).

The Minister commenced with the signing following her attendance of the 4th Brazil-Arab Countries Business Forum held in Riyadh. The Minister noted that this trade agreement could lead to Saudi Arabia importing approximately USD 150 million worth of beef per year. The number serves as a conservative estimate as in 2012, the last year that Brazil shipped beef to the Arab nation, sales amounted to USD 156 million.

Dr. Michel Alaby, Secretary General and CEO, Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, said: “Brazil and the Arab World have always had strong business and economic relations, and this agreement to lift the ban on beef exports will greatly help facilitate stronger trade ties between them. This initiative will surely open doors for many vendors, exporters and business owners in the country and we look forward to explore the wide range of opportunities that this will bring.”

Saudi Arabia’s 2012 ban on Brazilian beef imports was imposed following a report that an animal with symptoms of mad cow disease had died in the Brazilian state of Paraná in 2010, although the animal in question was proven to not have developed the actual condition. News of the ban being lifted has greatly encouraged the market, with meat companies now aiming to return to the 2012 export level of around 36,000 tons, according to the CEO of the Brazilian Meat Exporting Industries Association (Abiec), Fernando Sampaio.

Sampaio also noted that meat importers might be able to charge higher prices compared to pre-ban rates to adjust to market inflation following the influx of Australian beef imports. He added that the move of Saudi Arabia might encourage other Gulf countries such as Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain that have also banned beef imports, to explore the possibility of opening their market to Brazil, as these imports could potentially amount to 40,000 tons a year.