Trade talks center on Russia sending inspectors to U.S. poultry plants
by Meat&Poultry staff
WASHINGTON – Multiple avenues of communications at the senior level of the U.S. government are being pursued to resolve concerns brought up recently by the Russian Veterinary Service, Ministry of Agriculture regarding the poultry-trade agreement signed on July 14.
The trade “new wrinkle” is a new demand by Russia to send their inspectors to verify U.S. poultry plants meet the agreement’s protocols, stranding exports that were “packed and ready to go,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said.
U.S. officials reminded Russian officials the U.S. and Russia have both approved an agreement that reestablishes poultry trade with Russia, and it is incumbent upon the Russian government to honor that agreement. This trade pact was part of President Obama’s commitment to Russian President Medvedev to support Russia’s effort to gain membership in the World Trade Organization (W.T.O.).
Russia’s failure to fulfill its obligations of the signed agreement was a key part of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s recent hearing on international trade issues. Any further delay caused by Russia in implementing the agreement is “unacceptable,” Mr. Kirk told the committee.
After the hearing Mr. Kirk told news reporters he questioned the motivation of the Russian government by “unreasonably” delaying the resumption of U.S. poultry exports to Russia with an 11th hour demand for plant inspections. Washington wants to help Russia reach its goal of joining World Trade Organization, but “its issues like this, on poultry, that continue to frustrate us, frankly, and make us question their resolve to operate in a rules-based system,” he added.
“We have an agreement, we’ve signed it, we’ve met that protocol, the U.S. Department of Agriculture [U.S.D.A.] put out a list of the plants that meet the protocol and we’re ready to resume shipments now,” he continued. “The frustration is that it just seems to always be something new, but the notion of having to come and inspect plants we think will just unnecessary and unreasonably delay the process and it’s not compliant with what we’ve agreed to,” Mr. Kirk said.
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Committee Chairman, urged Mr. Kirk to have his office work as diligently and as promptly as possible with U.S.D.A. to find a resolution that will allow trade to actually flow.