Nicaragua raises foot-and-mouth alarm over US lifting Brazil beef import ban

By Keith Nuthall

- Last updated on GMT

Nicaragua has voiced concerns over exports of Brazilian beef
Nicaragua has voiced concerns over exports of Brazilian beef

Related tags World trade organization Us Beef Livestock

The Nicaraguan government has raised fears that the planned reopening of the US market to Brazilian beef could risk spreading foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) to north and central America.

Its representatives spoke out at a meeting last week (26 March) of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) sanitary and phytosanitary committee, in Geneva. A WTO official told GlobalMeatNews​ that Nicaragua was concerned infected Brazilian beef could "put at risk the herds of Canada, the US, Mexico and Central America".​ El Salvador and Guatemala supported their neighbour’s comments.

The claims were dismissed by Brazil, whose representative argued it exports beef and beef products to over 100 countries and is a "valuable and trustworthy supplier".​ Brazil said Nicaragua’s comments were "unusual"​ and "probably the first-ever to be raised about exports from one member to a third market".

Brasilia’s representative suggested Nicaragua’s real concerns were commercial, with its producers facing Brazilian competition in the key US market. Data from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said that Brazil had not reported an FMD outbreak since 2006, although vaccination was still carried out and the country had yet to be declared free of the disease.

A US diplomat told the meeting that Washington DC had concluded a sound risk analysis of Brazil’s sanitary system, following lengthy bilateral technical discussions "in which Brazil showed that its control system is effective…".​ As a result, the US is considering allowing imports of fresh beef from 14 Brazilian states, although it has extended an original comments deadline on the issue from 21 February to 22 April.

The US urged Nicaragua and its supporters to "submit their concerns, based on science".​ It stressed there had been no FMD cases in the US since 1929, with the representative adding that Washington was "confident that scientific evidence justifies allowing imports from some Brazilian states, and that Brazil has adequate controls".

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