SAO PAULO, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Brazilian Agriculture Minister Katia Abreu said on Monday that Saudi Arabia will reopen its markets to Brazilian beef after a three-year hiatus, a ministry statement said.
The Middle Eastern country cut off imports of beef from Brazil in 2012, after local veterinarians registered a case of atypical mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The case was found by local and international authorities to be of minimum threat to human health.
The ministry estimates that with the end of the embargo Brazil could export 50,000 tonnes of beef a year, worth $170 million, to Saudi Arabia.
Speaking in Riyadh after meetings with Saudi officials, Abreu said the reopening of Saudi beef markets would also open other Middle Eastern countries to Brazilian beef.
Abreu said her ministry would next focus on reopening the Japanese market to Brazilian beef, which was closed in 2012 as well.
Saudi Arabia was one of most important markets for Brazilian beef. The country imported $355 million of the product in 2014 from other origins. The opening of its and other Middle Eastern markets will likely benefit local beef processors such as JBS SA , Marfrig SA, BRF SA and Minerva SA. (Reporting by Gustavo Bonato and Reese Ewing Editing by W Simon)