(Adds minister comments, context)
By Jake Spring and Mateus Maia
BRASILIA, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Brazil is studying the removal of a 20-percent tariff on ethanol imports from the United States, Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said on Wednesday, in a decision that could depend on Washington lifting a ban on fresh beef exports from Brazil.
Last year, Brazil imposed a 20-percent tax on ethanol imported from the U.S. that exceeds a 600 million liter annual quota to protect local producers as imports spiked.
Also in 2017, the U.S. banned shipments of fresh beef from Brazil following on a food safety scandal involving bribes paid to inspectors that led to heightened inspections by the U.S. and in turn uncovered potential health risks.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Maggi implied that a decision on removing the ethanol import tariff could depend on resolving the dispute on beef exports.
“There is on the part of the United States a big demand to withdraw this (ethanol tariff) and we also have this problem with beef,” Maggi said. “Obviously one thing influences and contaminates the other.”
The ban on fresh beef exports could be lifted by April, Maggi said, when he is expected to step down in order to meet a deadline to run for elected office in October.
Brazil has already submitted all of the material requested by the United States to address concerns over beef exports and is awaiting for the United States to decide whether the issue is resolved, he said. (Reporting by Jake Spring and Mateus Maia; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)