July 9, 2004



Saudi Arabia Lifts 3-Year Ban On Beef From Argentina
Saudi Arabia has lifted a 3-year-old ban on all types of bovine and bovine meat from Argentina, the South American nation's animal and vegetable health agency, Senasa, said Thursday.
Saudi Arabia banned Argentine beef in April of 2001 after authorities here belatedly confirmed a widespread outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.
Foot-and-mouth disease - which normally strikes cloven-hoofed ruminants such as sheep, pigs, goats and cows - is a highly contagious illness that can be spread through contact with infected animals, farm equipment or meat.
The disease can be fatal in animals but is not believed to harm humans.
Argentina vaccinates against foot-and-mouth disease and hopes to be declared free of the disease by the World Organization for Animal Health by the end of the year. Argentina has not had a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak since August 2003.
Saudi Arabia's move comes a day after Argentina's neighbor, Chile, lifted its own ban on Argentine beef. In total, 78 countries have reopened their markets to Argentine beef since the country first reported problems with foot-and-mouth disease in 2001, Senasa said.
Argentina can now ship its beef to 82 nations. However, prized markets such as Canada, Mexico, Japan and the U.S. remain closed to fresh Argentine beef, though some of these import processed beef.
Argentina, which early in the 20th century was the world's top beef exporter, is now ranked No. 8 worldwide.
The country's Agriculture Secretariat expects beef exports to total between 400,000 and 420,000 metric tons this year.