Mexico to lift restrictions on Canadian beef in October

(Reuters) - Mexico will allow expanded imports of Canadian beef starting in October, leaders of the two countries said on Tuesday, ending 13 years of restrictions related to mad cow disease.

Mexico currently imports Canadian beef only from cattle under 30 months old, since Canada in 2003 reported its first case of mad cow, also called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Mexico’s decision to lift restrictions was announced in Ottawa by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. Trudeau told reporters that Mexico would open its market to all Canadian beef.

Canada is the world’s sixth-largest beef and veal exporter, and currently sells on average C$136 million ($103.96 million)worth of beef annually to Mexico, the eighth-biggest global beef consumer, according to the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Prior to Mexico’s restrictions in 2003, Canada sold about C$270 million to C$290 million worth of beef to the country.

Cargill Ltd [CARGIL.UL] and JBS USA LLC [JBS.UL] slaughter most of Canada’s cattle.

Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by James Dalgleish