Russia Re-opens to U.S. Beef
WASHINGTON - The official signing of a bilateral trade agreement between the United States and Russia means U.S. beef has regained access to the Russian market, effective immediately pending a plant audit tour by Russian inspectors.
“Before December 2003, Russia was a huge export market for U.S. cattle producers,” says South Dakota cattleman Ed Blair, chair of the beef industry’s Joint International Markets Committee. “It’s hard to believe this irrational trade barrier has been unremitting for almost three years now. Cattle producers are relieved Russia has finally acknowledged established international trade standards regarding BSE.”
After site visits from a Russian audit team, the market will immediately open to U.S. boneless beef, bone-in beef and beef variety meats from cattle under 30 months of age with an approved export certificate. The second step in this re-opening process should come in May 2007, when the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) General Assembly is expected to make its final decision on the United States’ risk-status for BSE.
Pending the determination of the United States as an OIE-designated controlled-risk or negligible-risk country, Russia will reopen to all U.S. beef and beef products from cattle of all ages with the removal of OIE designated specified risk materials.
“Russian consumers devoured our beef products in the past, and it’s about time they got to enjoy our superior exports once again,” says Missouri cattlemen and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Mike John. “Cattle producers urge all nations to emulate Russia’s promise to fully re-open to all U.S. beef and beef products pending the OIE’s BSE risk designation.”
“Previously, Russia was the largest export market for U.S. beef livers, and we look forward to rebuilding this market once again,” says Blair. “In 2003, Russia was the fifth largest export market for U.S. beef in terms of quantity, importing over 140 million pounds of U.S. beef and beef variety meats valued at over $53 million.”
“We urge the Russian and U.S. veterinarians to jointly inspect all slaughter facilities applying to export beef to Russia as quickly as possible, so that trade may resume promptly,” says John. “We want Russian consumers to be enjoying our beef for the winter holidays, and going into the New Year.”
President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the bilateral trade agreement yesterday as part of Russia's bid for accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). U.S. cattle producers are in strong support of the full bilateral agreement, which will effectively break down market access barriers to beef by lowering tariffs and raising quota levels for U.S. beef exports.
For more details on this agreement, go to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative online at: www.ustr.gov.