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China lifts ban on Brazilian meat imports

An employee sells meat during an inspection by Rio de Janeiro state’s consumer protection agency, PROCON, at a supermarket in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on March 24, 2017 © AFP / Yasuyoshi Chiba

BRAZIL, Mar 26 – Brazil, trying to recover from a rotten meat scandal that has pummeled its agribusiness industry, said Saturday that major trading partner China had lifted a ban on imports of its products.

“China announced today it has fully reopened its market to Brazilian meat,” Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said in a statement.

Maggi did not say when the resumption of Brazilian meat imports, suspended Monday by China, would take effect.

The minister said China will keep in place only its import restrictions on meat from 21 Brazilian processing plants under investigation over the tainted meat scandal.

China is the second-largest importer of Brazilian beef, after Hong Kong, with more than $703 million in imports in 2016. For both meat and poultry, China also was in second place with nearly $859.5 million in imports.

The reopening of the Chinese market “attests to the rigor and quality of the Brazilian sanitary system” and “shows the spirit of mutual confidence between our two countries,” Maggi said.

The scandal emerged March 17 when Brazilian police said they had uncovered a scheme to bribe corrupt health inspectors at those processing plants to certify tainted meat as fit for consumption.

On Monday, China suspended all Brazilian meat imports, and Hong Kong took the same step the next day.

On Friday, Hong Kong announced it will recall Brazilian meat from the 21 processing plants under investigation.

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