Brazil's president has suspended authorization for local processors to import coffee beans from Vietnam. It meant a sudden reversal of a decree to allow coffee imports for the first time ever after years of drought.
Brazilian President Michel Temer on Thursday provisionally suspended authorization of coffee imports from Vietnam which would have marked the first time the world's largest producer would buy green coffee abroad.
"Temer has decided to temporarily suspend the measure to better evaluate the situation with other government bodies," the president's office said in a statement.
The decision to backtrack came after a meeting with lawmakers with ties to coffee farmers in the country.
The government had originally allowed the import of 1 million 60-kilo robusta bean bags from Vietnam to counter the devastating impact of years of drought in Brazil's coffee-growing regions.
Meeting demand gets harder
Brazil's own robusta coffee stocks have fallen sharply in the top producing state of Espirito Santo. The government estimated current volumes at 2 million bags, which processors said were not enough to cover even two months of demand.
But farmers have fiercely opposed any imports, saying that beans from abroad could bring unknown diseases to domestic plantations.
What's worrying them even more is that coffee prices could drop steeply in Brazil on the back of cheaper imports. This is why they insist that there are enough local beans to meet industry needs until the new crop starts to hit warehouses around May.
President Michel Temer will still have to issue a decree formally canceling coffee imports, since legal documents opening the market have already been published.
hg/jd (Reuters, dpa)