Brazil pork sales to China soar as U.S. ties sour

Updated 2018-04-18 13:45:01

Brazil's pork exports to China have soared in recent months after a brief suspension by China, and experts said on Tuesday that the jump - which has come amid escalating U.S.-China trade tensions - indicates a huge potential for agricultural imports from Brazil and the broader Latin America region.

First-quarter Brazilian pork exports to China increased 151.6 percent year-on-year to 39,175 tons, according to data released Monday by the Brazilian Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services.

The fast growth largely offset losses in exports to Russia, which was the largest destination for Brazilian pork before Russia banning it in December 2017 after discovering illegal food additives in the meat, according to media reports.

China also banned meat imports from Brazil but lifted the ban at the end of 2017.

Pork exports to China may further expand after the Chinese government announced a 25 percent tariff on pork imports from the U.S. in response to possible tariffs on Chinese imports by the U.S., news website reported on Tuesday, citing Francisco Turra, chairman of the Brazilian Animal Protein Association.

"We expect that exports to China will grow dramatically and that the impact of the Russian export ban will be kept to a minimum," Turra was quoted as saying.

Experts said that rising tensions between China and the U.S., which is also a major agricultural products supplier, would give Brazil and other Latin American countries a huge opportunity.

"If China were to impose tariffs on U.S. agricultural products as announced, that would drive down exports of U.S. agricultural products to China and leave a huge void for Latin American agricultural producers to fill," Ma Wenfeng, a senior analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Ma said that Latin American countries are also big agricultural exporters and "expanding agricultural imports from the region could diversify China's food supply and avert risks."

Other experts also said that China has already been trying to strengthen trade ties with Latin America, expanding exports and investment in the region.

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