October 19, 2011
Russia evaluates resumption of Paraguay's beef shipments
In order to determine the possibility of the resumption of Paraguay's beef shipments to Russia after the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak a month ago, Russian technical experts began an inspection of meat refrigeration techniques in Paraguay on Monday (Oct 17).
According to president of the Paraguayan National Animal Health and Quality Agency (SENACSA) Daniel Rojas, the objective of the Russian inspectors is to check the health and traceability guarantees offered by Paraguay's refrigeration industry to resume exports as soon as possible. The highly infectious disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals was discovered on September 18 at a ranch in the northern department of San Pedro, approximately 400 kilometres north of the capital AsunciÃ³n and around 165 kilometres from the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Foot and mouth disease (FMD) poses a significant threat to the agricultural industry because infected animals have to be destroyed.
As such, Paraguay subsequently suspended its meat and livestock exports to contain the disease, while other countries in the region, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, ordered restrictions and even closed their borders to Paraguayan animal produce. The suspensions have had a considerable impact on the Paraguayan economy. President of the Paraguayan Meats Industry Chamber, Mari Llorens, has estimated that the crisis is costing the country approximately US$70 million per month. Russia is a major market for Paraguayan beef exports, accounting for 36% of total shipments. The resumption of beef exports to Russia relates to beef that was put into storage prior to the FMD outbreak, hence, the Russian inspection's concern with refrigeration.
The possibility of recommencing beef exports to Russia will come as a relieving prospect for the Paraguayan agricultural industry and the economy more broadly. This is not least because Russia represents one of the biggest markets for Paraguayan beef exports, and it hopes that other export markets will follow suit and authorise a similar resumption of exports. Elsewhere in the region, however, this development could generate further complications. The logistics of moving beef from landlocked Paraguay to Russia will require transporting the produce through countries that have not yet lifted their own restrictions on Paraguayan beef.