"The commerce ministry in coordination with the Ministries of Finance and Agriculture has decided to suspend imports of fresh and frozen red meats, which keep increasing over the years, despite the availability of the local product," said the Ministry’s Director General for Foreign Trade Khaled Bouchelaghem.
"This decision is intended to rationalize imports and encourage local products, and also meet the expectations of breeders and fatteners who see themselves in competition with imported products," he added.
In the same regard, Bouchelaghem affirmed that Algeria, like all countries, possesses the legal instruments enabling it to take "temporary protectionist measures" to curb its trade deficit or to protect the domestic producers.
Based on the figures provided by this official, the country's imports of red bovine meats had hit $122 million for the first ten months of 2020 alone, $67.5 million among them of fresh meat and $54.5 million of frozen meat.
According to the official, red meat imports were experiencing an upward trend despite the availability of the local product."
“This has been detrimental to the national economy."
Thus, in 2019, imports were worth $210 million ($135 million for fresh meats and 75 million for frozen meats), against $186 million in 2018 (104.6 million fresh meats and 81.4 million for frozen meats).
However, live cattle import operations are still allowed to supply the market with red meats, he said, explaining that this is far "more profitable" than importing end products.
"The import of cattle intended for slaughter allows the creation of direct and indirect jobs," he said.
Highlighting its advantages, he said that the introduction of live animals would help to increase the pace of work within slaughterhouses and butchers and to supply the market with fresh meats, to supply the meat processing industry with raw material, which should also expand the distribution network and generate additional jobs.
But in return for this freezing of imports for the benefit of the sector, this official calls on operators to show "economic patriotism" by contributing to the protection of purchasing power and the security of the meat market.