BUENOS AIRES – U.S. authorities have lifted a 14-year-old prohibition on imports of beef from Argentina, the government of the South American country said Tuesday.
The end of the ban could be worth some $280 million a year to the Argentine beef industry, the ministers of agriculture, Carlos Casamiquela; economy, Axel Kicillof; and foreign affairs, Hector Timerman, told a press conference in Buenos Aires.
Washington imposed the prohibition in 2001 after learning that the administration of then-President Fernando de la Rua had concealed the presence of foot-and-mouth disease in Argentine cattle herds.
“While it has been recognized (by international bodies) since 2007 that Argentina is free of foot-and-mouth, markets have not opened due to intense lobbying by firms in the United States in the face of supply from highly competitive agricultural companies,” Timerman said Tuesday.
The U.S. decision creates an opportunity for Argentine producers “to recover an important market for high quality beef,” Casamiquela said.
Under the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the end of the U.S. prohibition means that Argentine beef can also be exported to Mexico and Canada, the Cabinet ministers said.
Roughly a score of Argentina’s meat-packing plants are equipped to produce cuts that meets U.S. standards, according to the Agriculture Ministry.
U.S. consumers will benefit from the availability of “high quality beef and at a very good price,” Timerman said.