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US, Russia sign meat trade pact

by 5m Editor
17 June 2005, at 12:00am

WASHINGTON - The United States and Russia have formally signed a nearly 2-year-old meat trade agreement that could ease the way for Moscow to join the World Trade Organization, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

US, Russia sign meat trade pact - WASHINGTON - The United States and Russia have formally signed a nearly 2-year-old meat trade agreement that could ease the way for Moscow to join the World Trade Organization, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

"This agreement will help provide stable access to a very important market for American poultry, beef and pork and a vehicle through which we can address some of the difficult market access issues that we face in Russia," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said in a statement.

Signing the agreement "is an important step forward in U.S.-Russian agricultural relations and enables us to negotiate with greater certainty on agricultural issues as part of the Russian Federation's bid to join the World Trade Organization," U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman added.

Russia, which is the largest U.S. market for poultry exports, has abided by portions of the agreement since 2004. The United States had hoped to sign the deal, agreed to in September 2003, much earlier, but faced bureaucratic delays on the Russian side, a U.S. official said.

The pact established quotas for the United States to export certain quantities of beef, pork and poultry to Russia at a mutually agreed tariff level, USTR said.

The agreement also included rules on the allocation and distribution of import licenses and veterinary permits, and established a consultative mechanism for addressing trade-related matters, including food safety issues.

U.S. cattle producers welcomed the pact, even though the Russian market has been closed to U.S. beef exports since a single case of mad cow disease was found in the United States in December 2003. The U.S. Agriculture Department recently announced the discovery of another possible case.

"Russia was the seventh-largest export market for U.S. beef, prior to the imposition of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) restrictions," National Cattlemen's Beef Association President Jim McAdams said.

"This is yet another critical market that we need to reopen, and we have to be proactive if we are to going to reclaim our market share," he said.

Source: Reuters - 15th June 2005

5m Editor