Russian meat deal could benefit Mexico

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Ties between Mexico and Russia are expected to grow as trade restrictions are predicted to be lifted
Ties between Mexico and Russia are expected to grow as trade restrictions are predicted to be lifted

Related tags Meat International trade Russia Livestock

Mexico may be able to export 200,000-400,000 tonnes (t) of meat to Russia, as trade restrictions, started in 2012, are about to be lifted, according to Enrique Sánchez Cruz, director of Mexican veterinary regulator Senasica. 

In 2016 Russia imported 625,000t of meat, including 400,000t of red meat.

Cruz revealed that Russia and Mexico had reached a preliminary agreement on a bilateral deal, involving Mexico purchasing Russia’s grain and supplying meat in exchange. However, this is not a barter deal, as all supplies would be paid in cash, but at government level imported products on both sides could be granted discounts.

Last year, Mexican Agriculture Minister Jose Calzada Rovirosa had spoken of a potential revival in trade exports to Russia, saying he planned a visit to Moscow around April 2016 to discuss this issue with Russia’s Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev. Under the terms of the deal, Mexico would initially be interested in exports of beef and pork, he said.

Speaking at a press conference at the end of January 2017, Tkachev said that trade in agricultural products between Russia and Mexico was booming, as it grew 50% in 2016 compared to 2015 to US$148.5 million. He expressed confidence that the two countries could benefit from further development of trade, saying that wheat from Russia could be supplied in some quantity to Mexico.

Americo Alyatorre, executive secretary of the Russia-Mexico trade chamber, had earlier predicted that deliveries of Mexican meat to Russia would restart in 2016, explaining that, in the prior year, “a lot of work has been done on this”​. In particular, from 2015, Mexico adjusted its veterinary control systems, based on a request from Russian veterinary body Rosselkhoznadzor.

Ractopamine still an issue

In 2012 Rosselkhoznadzor implemented a complete ban on meat from Mexico, Brazil, Canada and the US following the discovery of the growth hormone ractopamine in several batches of delivered products. Russia’s veterinary service has declared a zero-tolerance policy towards ractopamine and still adheres to it.

In early February 2017, Rosselkhoznadzor banned imports of meat from New Zealand and restricted imports of meat from Belarus, also due to ractopamine fears. Russia’s veterinary inspectors claimed that New Zealand was using this growth stimulator, while in Belarus, meat manufacturers were re-selling contaminated products, previously imported from other countries.

Prior to the 2012 restrictions, Mexico was exporting 20,000t of meat to Russia a year – primarily pork and beef. Russia’s ban reduced overall Mexican meat exports from 149,800t in 2012 to 122,500t in 2013, according to data from the country’s Agriculture Ministry.

So far, Rosselkhoznadzor has not commented on the possible restoration of meat imports from Mexico. However, a spokesperson in Russia’s veterinary service, who wished to remain anonymous, told GlobalMeatNews that ractopamine was still a matter of concern for Russia, although Mexico has promised only ractopamine-free products for the Russian market.

According to the spokesperson, Rosselkhoznadzor requires comprehensive guarantees that ractopamine has no chance of entering the supply chain of meat destined for export to Russia. However, as long as Mexico’s meat industry is still using the growth stimulator and there is no separate veterinary control system for export-oriented products, these guarantees remain insufficient. Some kind of solution could be developed, however, he suggested.

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