It wasn’t an easy deal to reach, but Brazil and the United States have finally agreed on a deal that will allow the entry of Brazilian in natura meat into the American market. Negotiations started back in 1999, when Bill Clinton was in the White House, and Fernando Henrique Cardoso was the Brazilian president.
The Unites States will now accept imported meat from Brazilian regions where food-and-mouth disease (FMD) has been eradicated. The disease rarely infects humans, but could be fatal to children. So far, only meat from the Southern state of Santa Catarina has been allowed to enter the United States.
The deal brings an immediate image boost to the Brazilian meat industry. American safety standards for foreign products are among the world’s strictest, and many countries could follow the U.S. in opening their markets to Brazilian beef.
From the financial perspective, the deal doesn’t bring much to the table, as the U.S. establishes limits to its imports. Last year, the country decided to import 736,600 tons of beef. Nearly all of these imports came from only four countries: Australia (418,000 tons); New Zealand (213,000 tons); Argentina and Uruguay (20,000 tons each). Brazil will fight for space among the 64,000 tons split between the other countries.
The U.S. will start exporting beef to Brazil, as well, despite the cases of mad-cow disease found in American soil.
Brazil and the U.S. are the world’s third and fourth-biggest beef exporters, respectively. The first two positions belong to India and Australia.