September 26, 2003
Argentina Calls For End To Foot-And-Mouth
Leaders from Argentina's beef industry want nations of the Mercosur trade bloc to work together to eradicate foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) from the region. Mercosur is a Latin America free trade zone comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Bolivia and Chile as associate members. Peru was also recently accepted to join the trade group.
Mecusor members should make the elimination of FMD their top priority, or face the consequences to their livestock industries, said Argentinian beef producer Leon Belloc during a regional livestock conference. "Only its eradication will allow us to open markets, especially those in the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta)," he said.
Because of last month's outbreak of FMD in Argentina, the country will have to wait until 2005 before they can export to Nafta member countries, which include the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Last month's outbreak was blamed on incompetent handling of the disease in neighbouring Paraguay, allowing the infection to spread to herds across the border in north Argentina. Brazil, Chile and Uruguay sounded the alarm and put a ban on Argentine beef products.
Pointing to the loss in the industry, Belloc said that Uruguayan cuts are being sold at 35% more than Argentine ones in the international market, stressing on the need for exports to neighbouring countries.