Brazil Says Saudi Arabia Suspends Some of Its Poultry Imports

Saudi Arabia suspended poultry imports from 11 processing plants in Brazil without explanation or prior notice, according to a government statement from the world’s largest exporter of the meat.

Brazil may take the case to the World Trade Organization if an undue trade barrier is proven, according to the joint statement from the South American country’s foreign affairs and agriculture ministries on Thursday. Brasilia is in contact with Saudi officials and is seeking clarification.

Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Brazil didn’t immediately respond to an email sent outside normal business hours seeking comment.

The suspension comes at a delicate time for the chicken industry in Brazil, which faces surging costs from rising corn prices and weakening domestic demand as Covid-19 saps purchasing power and boosts unemployment. Saudi Arabia accounted for about 11% of Brazil’s poultry exports last year, according to industry group Brazilian Association of Animal Protein.

The 11 Brazil plants were previously approved for shipments, according to a list published by Saudi Arabia’s Food and Drug Authority, the Brazil government statement said. The exporter didn’t identify which processing plants were impacted in the statement.

Brazil’s JBS SA said it had already diverted poultry to other markets and that it had contacted the health authority of Saudi Arabia to “discuss and understand” the suspension.

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