WASHINGTON - U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman announced today that the United States has signed an agreement with the Russian Federation confirming a previous understanding allowing for specified access for U.S. poultry, beef and pork in the Russian market.
"The signing of this 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," stated Ambassador Portman.
"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," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.
"With the signing of this agreement, U.S. exporters of poultry, beef and pork will have a more predictable market in Russia," according to Chief Agricultural Negotiator Allen F. Johnson, who signed the agreement on behalf of the United States. The agreement, portions of which the Russian Federation has applied since 2004, confirms a special mechanism by which the United States may export a specific quantity of each of these products at a mutually agreed tariff level. Quantities above these special measures would be subject to a higher tariff, operating in a similar manner to tariff-rate quotas.
The agreement also includes rules on the allocation and distribution of import licenses and veterinary permits, and establishes a consultative mechanism for addressing trade-related matters, including sanitary issues. The consultative mechanism ensures that representatives from the United States and Russia will meet at least twice a year to discuss market conditions and the administration of the special measures. Additionally, the agreement strengthens the commitment of the United States and Russia to work toward resolution of outstanding animal health and meat safety matters.
The National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, USA Poultry and Egg Export Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, American Meat Institute and U.S. Meat Export Federation support the agreement.
Today's signing formalizes an agreement which was originally reached in principle on September 29, 2003, but not signed at that time. The Russian Federation has abided by portions of the agreement since 2004. The negotiations for this accord were precipitated by the Russian Government's introduction of restrictions on global imports of poultry, pork and beef in 2003.
WTO accession negotiations with Russia are proceeding on two tracks:
(1) bilaterally to open up Russia's markets to U.S. exporters of goods, agriculture and services; and (2) multilaterally to focus on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules issues that include agriculture, customs, protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), treatment of state-owned enterprises, and services. A final WTO accession package will include: (1) all of the commitments made in bilateral negotiations on market access for goods, agriculture, and services that are provided to all WTO Members; and (2) Russia's commitments to revise its trade regime to adhere to WTO rules that will be included in a multilaterally agreed Working Party (WP) report and protocol.
U.S. exports of meat and poultry are valued at $480 million annually, on average since 2000. Russia is the United States' top export market for poultry products, which reached export levels of nearly $700 million in 2001. Exports have declined recently as a result of Russian restrictions. Russia is currently the sixth largest market for U.S. pork and the seventh largest market for U.S. beef.
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Note to Media: A copy of the agreement is available Here