On June 28, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) announced that it had lifted its BSE-related ban on U.S. beef and beef products, which has been in place since May 2012. On July 1, USTR and USDA issued a joint statement providing more details on product eligibility and the steps that must be taken before beef shipments to Saudi Arabia can resume.
The statement notes that Saudi Arabia will allow imports of beef and beef products derived from U.S. cattle less than 30 months of age, with access expanded to include products from cattle under 48 months after a phase-in period. The agencies also stated that USDA is developing an Export Verification (EV) Program to address conditions specific to the Saudi market, and that the program’s details should be announced “in the next few weeks.”
Prior to closing, Saudi Arabia was a promising market for U.S. beef exports. In 2011, exports totaled 6,628 metric tons (mt) valued at $31.5 million – increases of 6 percent in volume and an impressive 40 percent in value from the totals posted in 2010. Exports in 2012 reached 2,133 mt valued at $15 million before trade was suspended in mid-May.