May 11, 1997
One hundred thousand tons are being negotiated with Canada
Canada has already allowed our meat to enter in order to be tasted. They are now starting pilot transactions.
Canada is about to open a quota of import of Argentine cattle meat, with a pilot transaction which will result in 100.000 tons.
This amount represent 20% of the total of Argentine export of cattle meat, that reached 460.000 tons last year. The value of these shipments hardly reached 1.000 million dollars.
The possible opening of the Canadian market (nowadays closed to the Argentine meat) will improve the average value of the cuts, because we are talking about an important purchaser of the non-aphthous sector. Private sources think that an export of 100.000 tons will generate additional shipments for about 400 million dollars. This will be possible as long as the internal price of alive animals does not increase and as long as we can compete with other suppliers.
The non-aphthous sector is composed by countries which could get rid of this calamity. They are the most attractive ones due to their buying power: the price of the cattle meat in those countries doubles the prices of the aphthous sector, the only one the Argentine meat has been able to reach up to now. Canada imports between 200 and 250 thousand tons of cattle meat every year.
There is a permanent flow of meat between the US and its boreal neighbor, and that is also why it appears in the statistics as a big exporter. But Canadian people are interested in the possibility of a cheaper origin. In the negotiation, Canada expressed the following request: Argentina, as counterpart, also releases from the health standpoint, because Canadians apply the same criteria as the Americans. The Argentine secretary of Agriculture, Felipe Solá, has just announced that the US promised an imminent access of the quota of 20.000 tons granted to Argentina during the negotiation of the Uruguay Round of GATT.
It had not done up to now due to the risk of aphthous fever, but after three years without any sings of this disease, the way is open. And following the United States, the borderlines of the other countries of the nonaphthous sector will disappear.
But Argentina does not lead the international meat market, as it did until the 60s. The aphthous was an obstacle and it broke the myth of the Argentine steaks. Now we have to struggle against competition. The international leader is Australia, a net exporter. This country is followed by the European Community, and the United States are in third place, only after then the pampaeano bullock has its place.
Now the borderlines are starting to disappear and we can compete at the same level. Ten days ago people tasted Argentine meat in Toronto. In order to get it, the Canadian Department of Food Inspection authorized the entry to Canada of 400 kg. of fresh meat. This permission was very important in the process of opening. As a consequence of this meeting, called "A taste of Argentina", the permission for the pilot transactions was granted, and this transactions will not affect the health-commercial relationship between Canada and the United States.
Now the meat businessmen are leaving to Chicago, where next week the annual meeting of the "packers", their American colleagues, will be held.