Brasília (AFP) – The fallout from Brazil’s rotten meat scandal accelerated Monday when China, a huge market, suspended imports and the European Union demanded a partial ban.
Another ban on Brazilian meat imposed by Chile sparked fears of a trade spat between the two South American partners.
A charm offensive by President Michel Temer, who even invited foreign ambassadors to a traditional meat restaurant in the capital Brasilia late Sunday, failed to calm importers.
China, which with Hong Kong is Brazil’s biggest meat export market, said it needed to know more about the allegations that major meatpacking businesses bribed inspectors to get health certificates and masked tainted meat as fit for consumption.
“Until it receives more information, China will not unload meat imported from Brazil,” the Brazilian agriculture ministry said in an online statement.
It said Brazilian Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi will hold a videoconference late Monday with Chinese authorities to offer “clarifications.”
The European Commission, the EU executive arm, called on Brazil to immediately halt exports by four companies implicated in the scandal, the bloc’s spokesman Enrico Brivio told reporters in Brussels.
Shortly after, the Brazilian government said it had complied, halting exports by all 21 meat processors under investigation.
But after Chile announced a “temporary” ban on Brazilian meat products, Maggi angrily threatened reprisals.
“We are major importers of Chilean products: fish, fruit and other products, and Brazilians demand that we should erect barriers. Trade is like that,” Maggi said.
At least 30 people have been arrested in the scandal, with Brazilian police raiding more than a dozen processing plants.
A poultry-processing plant run by the multinational BRF group and two meat-processing plants operated by the local Peccin company were shut down, the agriculture ministry said.
– New blow for Brazil –
Brazil is the world’s biggest beef and poultry-exporting nation and the row is…