SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil’s agriculture minister has postponed a trip to China originally set for August to September, a ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, as industry groups said pending approvals to export meat to China were taking longer than expected.
The spokesman said Minister Tereza Cristina Dias now intends to go in September but gave no reason for postponing the trip.
China is currently considering export permits for 30 Brazilian meatpacking plants, including 19 beef processors, 9 chicken factories, one pork producer and one donkey plant, according to meat industry associations ABPA and Abiec.
“There is great expectation as demand exists and sales to China are relevant to results of any meat-packer,” Liège Nogueira, executive director at beef exporters Abiec, told Reuters at an industry event on Tuesday.
Ricardo Santin, director at poultry and pork association ABPA, told Reuters the industry had expected an announcement regarding the export approvals to be made during Dias’ trip to China.
But Chinese authorities have yet to conclude what is believed to be the final part of the inspection of Brazilian beef plants ahead of issuing export permits for them, according to Nogueira.
Brazilian beef packers had hoped the online audits of the plants - which do not require the presence of inspectors in situ and are organized remotely - would take place in July, she said.
While beef packers were not audited online as of mid-July, three poultry plants and one pork producer went through that process, Santin said.
“We are just waiting for a response from China,” Santin said.
Abiec expects Chinese online inspections to be carried out soon, but there is no set timeline for resumption of the audits or a final decision for the plant approvals.
Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Bernadette Baum