(Adds context, details from Dias remarks on Twitter, PIX available)
By Ana Mano
SAO PAULO, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Brazil is hopeful China will authorize more local meat exporters before Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Brazil next month, as the South American country seeks to position itself as a major food exporter to the world’s most populous nation.
“More meat plant approvals may happen in the few days that separate a visit by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to China from the visit of the Chinese president to Brazil,” said Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias in a video posted on Twitter on Thursday.
In September, China granted export licenses to 25 Brazilian meatpacking plants, allowing the country’s fast-growing protein industry to feed more people in the Asian nation, where a deadly pig disease has cut local supply.
“Demand is huge. So the meatpackers which prepared and meet Chinese protocols will have opportunity (to export),” Dias said.
Discussions between a Brazilian delegation to China and local authorities this week also covered demand for Brazilian commodities like sugar, cotton and ethanol, Dias said at the end of her second visit to China this year.
While describing “advances” in talks initiated in May, more negotiation is required for the sale of Brazilian soymeal to China, as technical discussions involving officials from both countries are still underway.
Brazil is China’s main soybean supplier but has struggled to increase trade in soymeal with the Asian country. Last year, Brazil exported 68.9 million tonnes of soybeans to China and only 90,000 tonnes of soymeal, according to government data.
After being in China for almost a week, Dias said the two nations are still discussing “a protocol” for exporting Brazilian soy and cotton meal. For soymeal, which is used as animal feed, access will be a “more complicated” achievement, she said on Twitter, without elaborating.
Meanwhile, Dias noted that Brazil is expected to start exporting melons to China while Brazil will buy Chinese pears, opening a new avenue of trade. (Reporting by Ana Mano and Roberto Samora; Editing by David Gregorio and Bill Berkrot)