China resumes imports of boneless Brazilian beef, meatpacker shares jump

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BEIJING/SAO PAULO, Dec 15 (Reuters) - China's customs administration said it will allow imports of some beef products from Brazil to resume on Wednesday, ending an embargo in force since Sept. 4.

Brazil, the world's top beef exporter, suspended shipments to its No. 1 customer China after confirming cases of atypical mad cow disease in early September. read more

The countries have since been in negotiations to restore trade.

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Beijing said it had resumed imports of Brazilian boneless beef products from cattle less than 30 months old, according to a document published on the website of the General Administration of Customs.

Shares in Brazilian meatpackers jumped on the news, with JBS (JBSS3.SA) up 3% and Minerva (BEEF3.SA) 6% higher.

The Brazilian agriculture ministry welcomed the decision allowing local companies to resume beef exports to China.

"This is really good news that we have been waiting for for some time," Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias said in a radio interview. "We had already provided all the technical information and were waiting for confirmation (that exports could resume)."

She played down losses stemming from the ban, saying they were partly offset by Russia's recent decision to authorize more Brazilian plants to export beef.

Helping matters along, Chinese authorities in November had cleared certain Brazilian beef shipments certified before Sept. 3 that were in transit when the embargo came into force, the agriculture ministry said.

Minerva, which was directly affected by the ban, said slaughter and beef production operations dedicated to the Chinese market would resume immediately, according to a securities filing.

Minerva sells beef to China from seven units in South America with a slaughtering capacity of approximately 10,000 head of cattle/day.

The export ban on Brazilian beef caused widespread concern in the trading community as China sources about 40% of all its beef imports from Brazil.

China's beef imports have surged in recent years, fuelled by growing demand for the meat from an increasingly affluent middle class.

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Reporting by Emily Chow and Hallie Gu Additional reporting by Ana Mano in Sao Paulo and Rodrigo Viga Gaier in Rio de Janeiro Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Kenneth Maxwell, Kirsten Donovan

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