Since Mauricio Macri took office in December 2015, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed a great deal of interest in trading with Argentina. In November 2016, Abe visited Buenos Aires; the two leaders released a joint press statement, in which they agreed to pick up the pace of negotiations for bilateral trade and investment plans between the two countries.
“We agreed to promote trade and investment between the two countries,” Abe stated in a press conference during his visit. “It is very useful (for Argentina) to build strategic ties (with Japan),” Macri added.
Trade negotiations between the two countries included, for the first time ever, Argentine exports of beef to Japan after Macri and Abe signed an agreement that ensured the free trade of meat between the two countries in May. This deal opened up a significant market for Argentine beef exporters, as in 2017 alone Japan imported US $3.1 billion worth of beef from a number of different countries.
Today, Río Negro slaughterhouse Fridevi SA officially exported its first shipment of beef to Japan. Sent by plane, it was a fairly small shipment, containing 441 pounds of high-quality specialty cuts. In the next few days, however, a shipping container with 10 tons of beef will soon follow.
Fridevi, which has produced beef for the domestic market since 1983, is ranked as the most important beef supplier in Patagonia, providing meat to large companies including La Anónima, Coto, and Cencosud with the slaughter of more than 6,000 cattle per month.
“After evaluating shipments by Japanese customers, we estimate that we can finish designing the global business we want to develop with the most convenient business partners,” Sergio Seisdedos, General Manager of Fridevi, stated after the shipment.
This morning, the Japanese ambassador to Argentina tweeted: “Today, a shipment of Argentine beef was sent from Ezeiza to Japan for the first time in history! I would like to thank for all their work and for making this possible Minister of Agribusiness @lmetchevehere, the Governor of Río Negro, Alberto Weretilneck, the slaughterhouse FRIDEVI, @Marubeni and @SenasaAR”.
¡Hoy salió de Ezeiza por 1ra. vez en la historia la carne argentina a Japón!
Agradezco por todo el trabajo para que esto fuera posible al Ministro de Agroindustria @lmetchevehere , al Gobernador de Río Negro, Alberto Weretilneck, al frigorífico FRIDEVI, a @Marubeni y al @SenasaAR pic.twitter.com/W9wrYPO9be
— Noriteru Fukushima (@EmbFukushima) July 23, 2018
The growth of Argentine beef exports to Japan has elevated the hopes of many in Argentina’s agricultural sector, which has suffered from a number of droughts in the last few years. “In the company, although we still view this deal with great prudence— as we still cannot talk about fully consolidated business and much remains to be done— it is clear that we consider this a historic possibility to improve our export/consumption business matrix”, Seisdedos emphasized.
“For our two shareholders, the Association of Argentine Cooperatives and the Cooperative of Patagonians and Viedma, today’s export is a true recognition of years of investment during a time in which exports are not so popular,” Seisdedos added, specifying the enormous opportunity presented to the company, not only in exporting beef to Japan—which has a large and growing demand for the product— but also for being the first in the history of Argentina to do so.