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Brazil’s meat lobby says new tariff waiver allows cheaper corn imports from US and Ukraine

Brazil’s decision to temporarily waive tariffs on grain imports could pave the way for cheaper corn from the Ukraine and US that could undercut Mercosur-based grain growers, says ABPA leader.

22 April 2021, at 7:00am

Reuters reports that Brazil’s government announced that it would waive import duties from supplies outside the South American Mercosur trade bloc, in response to a direct request from meat association ABPA, its President Ricardo Santin said. The industry is seeking alternative corn providers given the high prices of the cereal in the domestic market, he added.

BRF SA, Brazil's largest chicken processor, told Reuters it has imported corn from Argentina in recent days, without providing details regarding volumes. Santin said the company and its competitors may rely on corn imports while prices remain high.

The suspension of grain import duties, published in a new edition of the federal gazette on 20 April, will take effect in seven days and be valid through 31 December and also covers soybeans, soymeal and soy oil.

ABPA has also urged the government to allow imports of US genetically-modified (GMO) corn varieties not approved in Brazil if emergency supplies are needed, Santin said. Those imports would be destined to make animal feed only, he said.

"There is a difficulty in finding varieties in the US that are already approved in Brazil," Santin said about corn. "It's not just like going there and buying it."

Abramilho, an association representing domestic corn producers, said it hoped the government would handle the tariff exemption "skillfully."

As the price of corn rises, ABPA said the meat industry is looking for feed alternatives, including wheat.

Last year, Brazil had temporarily suspended certain grain import tariffs from countries outside the Mercosur trade bloc. After the move, Brazil made a rare purchase of US soybeans.

The soy exemption lasted through mid-January and corn's ended last month.

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