The fallout from Brazil’s rotten meat scandal accelerated on Monday when China, a huge client, 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.
It said Brazilian Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi will hold a videoconference late Monday with Chinese authorities to offer “clarifications.”
“We expect more than 30 countries to question Brazil about this issue,” Maggi told a news conference.
If all of them halt imports of Brazilian meat, it will be catastrophic for the country, the minister said.
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.
South Korea, for its part, suspended distribution of chicken already imported from Brazil to inspect it for safety. But it has no plans to close its market to Brazilian meat, the South Korean embassy in Brasilia said.
At least 30…