China lifts Brazilian beef ban, posing a threat to Australian exports

ABC Rural

By Sarina Locke

Photo: China grew to be Australia’s fourth largest market worth $750 million a year, while a ban was in place on Brazilian beef. (Caddie Brain)

China has announced it will lift the ban on Brazilian beef, imposed after a case of mad cow disease in 2012.

While the ban was in place, Brazil found it could still export beef into Hong Kong, a trade which grew to be worth $1.5 billion a year.

Meat and Livestock Australia economist Tim McRae says Australia will be watching to see whether Brazil continues to export to Hong Kong, or whether it takes over from Australia as a key supplier of beef to the mainland.

Mr McRae says Brazil still only has eight processing plants approved to access China.

"In comparison, Australia has 33 plants approved to ship to China," he said.

"So it will be longer term, but any time you have an increase competition into the market, that will have an impact on the product.

"But the Chinese market has grown considerably in these last two years, so it may be able to absorb this product."

China will take mostly frozen Brazilian beef.

Australia’s beef trade with China was worth $750 million over the past 12 months. In all, it was a $1 billion market for red meat.

Other markets will also be looking to lift the ban on Brazilian beef, including Saudi Arabia, to which Australia has growth its beef exports in the last two years.