Economist says Argentina’s beef export suspension a misguided policy

An ag economist says last week’s announcement that Argentina would suspend most beef exports in an effort to bolster domestic supplies is misguided.

US Meat Export Federation’s Erin Borror says instead of helping, it will likely have a negative impact on beef producers and consumers.  “Before big export restrictions in 2006, exports were accounting for 20% of Argentina’s beef production,” she says.  “Consumption of beef (in Argentina) was still strong, it was around 47 to 48 kilos per person.  And then you have the government restricting exports and what happened, exports as a share of production plummeted. And production decreased as well.”

She says the suspension it isn’t likely to provide a big boost to US exports.  “China is the market expected to see the biggest impact,” she says.  “But, for the US, we have been growing there regardless of China’s growing imports from South America.  We still see big potential for grain-fed US beef in China, but that demand for US beef is entirely separate from what’s happening in South America.”

Argentina currently accounts for 8 percent of total global beef exports and more than 70 percent of its 2021 exports were destined for China.

The suspension does not apply to beef variety meats or to beef muscle cuts exported under specific quotas and Argentina can continue to export some beef cuts to the European Union.  The small volumes exported to the US can also continue. 

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