Vietnam puts Brazilian meat imports on the table

By Pham Huong   March 22, 2017 | 09:14 pm PT
Vietnam puts Brazilian meat imports on the table
Members of the Public Health Surveillance Agency collect sausages to analyze in their laboratory, at a supermarket in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo by Reuters
The move comes after accusations that Brazilian meat exporters are selling substandard products.

Vietnam is considering whether to ban imports of livestock and poultry products from Brazil as the Latin American country investigates the quality of its meat exports.

The animal health department said on Wednesday meat imports from Brazil have been low so far this year, but it has asked the agriculture ministry to halt imports if any low-quality products are found.

Following a two-year investigation, Brazil's federal police last week accused more than 100 people, mostly health inspectors, of taking bribes and allowing the sale of rancid products, falsifying export documents and failing to inspect meat packing plants, Reuters reported. Brazil is the world's top producer of beef and poultry.

BRF and JBS, the world's biggest meat producers, are among dozens of firms targeted in the police investigation into what would be the biggest scandal to hit Brazil’s agricultural sector. Both companies have denied any wrongdoing.

The trade office at the Vietnamese Embassy in Brazil has called on agencies in Vietnam to tighten inspections of livestock and poultry products from Brazil.

Hong Kong, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Switzerland all announced partial or all-out bans on Brazilian meat imports on Tuesday, following steps taken a day earlier by China, the European Union, South Korea and Chile, Reuters reported.

But South Korea said on Tuesday it will lift the ban on poultry imports from BRF, the world's largest exporter of the meat.

Vietnam has imported around 3,000 tons of meat and meat products from Brazil so far this year, the animal health department said.

“The amount is very small compared to the 6 million tons that Brazil exports every year to countries around the world,” said an official from the department.

Brazil, recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health for doing a good job in controlling animal diseases, exports livestock and poultry products to 150 markets around the world.

Last year, it took the lead in beef and chicken exports with outbound sales of the two products hitting 1.8 million tons and 4 million tons, respectively. Its major buyers are the E.U., Russia, Japan, China and Singapore.

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Brazil stood at $2.29 billion in the first nine months of last year, down 15.7 percent against the same period in 2015, with Vietnam's imports totaling $1.35 billion, Vietnam Customs data showed.

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