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November 30, 2012

Russia to End Embargo Against Brazilian Meat Processors

After a year and a half of frustrating negotiations, the Russian embargo against numerous meat processors in southern Brazil appears to be over. The embargo, which was instituted suddenly in June of 2011, caught meat processors in southern Brazil by complete surprise. At the time, Russia was the single largest importer of Brazilian pork and there had not been any indication that there were problems.

The decision to end the embargo was communicated by the Brazilian ambassador in Moscow and the director of Brazil's Grain and Livestock Sanitation Agency during a meeting with Russia's head of veterinary and phytosanitary services last Friday, November 23rd. An official communique must still be issued by the Russian government ending the embargo. The two countries also agreed that any Brazilian meat exported to Europe or Russia must also be accompanied by documentation attesting that the meat is free of growth hormones.

At the time the embargo was initiated, Russian officials insisted that the action was due to sub-standard sanitary conditions at the various meat processors, but Brazilian officials thought all along that the embargo had much more to do with domestic political considerations within Russia than it did with sanitary conditions in Brazil.

Since June of 2011, there have been 160 supervised inspections of Brazilian meat processors and 10 official meeting between officials from both countries trying to resolve the impasse. Between August of 2011 and August of 2012, 26 meat processors in other regions of Brazil were cleared to export meat products to Russia.

The lifting of the embargo is for beef, pork, and poultry processed in the states of Mato Grosso, Parana, and Rio Grande do Sul. With the embargo now in the past, the expectation is that Brazilian meat exports in 2012 will easily set new record high volumes.

Not only are meat exports to Russia expected to increase in 2013, next year Japan is also expected to start importing pork from the state of Santa Catarina, which is the leading pork producing state in Brazil. The state of Santa Catarina was declared free of foot and mouth disease five years ago and the Brazilian government and Japan have been negotiating ever since in an attempt to restart pork exports to the Japan, which is the largest pork importer in the world.