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Saudi Beef Imports Ban expected to Increase U.S. Exports

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4/5/2005 4:44:00 PM

Saudi Arabia: Ban on Canadian Beef Imports is Expected to Increase U.S. Exports

On March 7, 2005, the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) issued a circular to Saudi traders announcing a temporary ban on imports of beef and beef products from Canada because of the discovery of a third case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or "Mad Cow" disease in Canada. Last year, the MOCI banned imports of Canadian live cattle when a case of BSE was discovered in the Canadian province of Alberta.

The ban on Canadian beef is expected to significantly increase U.S. beef exports to Saudi Arabia. Saudi high quality beef importers indicated that the ban on Canadian beef imports has left the U.S. as the only high quality beef supplier to the Kingdom. Some importers reported a 10 to 15 percent increase in demand for U.S. beef following the Saudi government's decision to temporarily ban imports of Canadian beef. One Saudi firm that used to import one 40-foot container of frozen U.S. beef monthly before the ban on Canadian beef was imposed is now planning to bring in two containers every 45 days. Importers say that U.S. beef exports to Saudi Arabia could increase sharply if the government removes its restrictions on animal protein based feed supplements and growth hormones. In 2001, the Saudi Ministry of Commerce issued requirements for beef and poultry meat imports, which call for an official statement certifying that the animal slaughtered was not fed animal protein-based and was not treated with growth hormones.

In 2003 Canadian beef exports to Saudi Arabia totaled U.S. $1.9 million, accounting for 5 percent of the total Canadian agricultural products exports to the Kingdom, which were valued at $34.6 million. In 2003, the United States total beef and beef products exports were valued at $11.2 according to the United Nations Statistical Office. Based on the same data, Saudi Arabia's total beef and beef products imports were valued at $89 million during the same period.

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