Argentina and Brazil are greeting news that they will soon be able to export fresh beef into the United States after a longtime ban.
Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman said Tuesday that Mexico and Canada will also reopen their markets. The US has banned imports of Argentine beef since 2001 to avoid a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak from Argentina's cattle herd.
Timerman said the ban was due to "poor handling of the foot and mouth disease by the government in 2001," and that Argentina has been free of the disease since 2007.
Exports of fresh beef from Argentina to the three North American countries could be worth about $280 million, said Economy Minister Axel Kicillof.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced Monday that it is amending its regulations to allow imports of fresh (chilled or frozen) beef from Argentina and 14 states in Brazil. It's "the first step in a process for these regions to gain access to the U.S. market for beef", the APHIS said in a statement.
Brazil's Minister of Agriculture, Katia Abreu, said the deal is an outcome of President Dilma Rousseff's political planning ahead of the meeting with President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
Brazil expects to able to export 100,000 tons of beef to the United States in the next five years. Abreu said the decision of the Obama administration is like "getting a pass code" to access other markets.
"We have to persistently insist on defending our agricultural products," she said, adding that the government wants Brazil to become one of the top five agricultural nations.
The timing on the lifting of the ban is still unclear as Argentina and Brazil still need to meet other food safety standards before they can export beef to the U.S.