RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – Closed since 2003, the Saudi Arabian market is re-opening to Canadian beef exports, announced Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz following his Feb. 17 meeting with Saudi Arabian Minister of Commerce and Industry Abdullah Bin Ahmed Zeinal Alireza in Riyadh. Prior to a bovine spongiform encephalopathy-related ban imposed in 2003, Saudi Arabia was Canada's sixth-largest market for exports of beef.

"Step by step, this government is re-opening markets to Canadian beef producers," Minister Ritz said.

Today's agreement re-opens the Saudi Arabian market to Canadian boneless beef exports from animals under 30 months of age. Canada and Saudi Arabia agreed to continue extensive negotiations with the goal of fully re-opening access for Canadian beef exports.

The Canada Beef Export Federation estimates that full market access to Saudi Arabia would allow Canadian beef exporters to re-establish previous export levels worth nearly $6 million.

Mr. Ritz was in Saudi Arabia as part of a Middle East mission to create and expand new marketing opportunities for Canadian producers. During his visit to Riyadh, he met with key importers and Saudi government ministers. Minister Ritz and his counterpart Agriculture Minister H.E. Dr. Fahd Bin Abdulrahman Balghunaim, directed officials to resolve market access issues. Mr. Ritz plans to travel to the United Arab Emirates next week where he will attend the Gulfood Show in Dubai.

To post your comments on this story, click here:

[email protected].