Brazil is likely to challenge the European Union’s use of export subsidies for poultry when the two governments meet in the near future to discuss international trade issues, according to a report in the United Kingdom’s Farmers Weekly.

At the Financial Times conference earlier this year, Francisco Turra, president of the Brazilian Poultry Association (UBABEF), said EU export subsidies for whole chicken, particularly to markets such as Saudi Arabia, represent a major threat to Brazilian chicken producers.

Turra explained that the subsidies were likely to be challenged at the next round of free-trade agreement talks between Mercosur, the political union that promotes trade between Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and the European Union.   Turra indicated that Brazil is the world’s largest poultry exporter and the third largest producer after the United States and China. To maintain Brazil’s chicken industry growth, it needs to increase exports, he added.   There are opportunities in a number of countries the UBABEF chief noted.  If China and India were to increase per capita consumption by 1 kilogram a year, it is estimated that an additional 2.5 million metric tons of poultry meat would be required, equivalent to the annual production of Russia.

Europe is Brazil’s second largest export market for poultry, with The Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom its principal markets.  Brazil has been frustrated by restrictive import quotas and non-tariff barriers such as limitations on frozen chicken, said Turra.

John Clarke, director for international affairs at the EU Commission also spoke at the conference. The European Union accounts for 29 percent of Brazil’s agriculture exports.  He said this possible World Trade Organization challenge should be used to put pressure on Brazil to further protect its rainforests.   Clarke added that the European Union is prepared to review the tariffs and duties it has on Brazilian agricultural commodities, but only as part of a new free trade agreement with Mercosur.  The European Union was not willing to negotiate on a unilateral basis, he noted.