Russia proposes lower tariff rate quota on US poultry

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – Russia has revised its proposed annual tariff rate quota for US poultry as a provision in its negotiations for securing membership in the World Trade Organization, according to the National Chicken Council.

The tariff rate quota (TRQ) would be fixed at 250,000 metric tons on a permanent basis and is a reduction in quantity by about 50% from its previous offer. The in-quota tariff rate would be 27.5% ad valorem and the TRQ tariff would be fixed at 80% ad valorem.

Russia’s revised offer for poultry is in line with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov’s announcement of Nov. 23 that Russia plans to cut the existing import quota to 350,000 tons per year for 2011. Under Decree No. 1021, signed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Dec. 16, 2009, the country’s total poultry import quota was fixed at 600,000 tons in 2011 and 550,000 tons in 2012, including the US poultry import quota of 446,000 tons (74.4%) in 2011 and 409,200 tons (74.4%) in 2012.

Russia’s revised offer, which was circulated to key agricultural exporting nations at the end of November, may complicate Russia’s negotiating efforts to conclude its WTO membership in 2011. One US government official involved in the negotiations said the reduced market access offer on poultry was particularly problematic for exporters, according to the BNA report.

In addition to negotiating the TRQs for poultry, pork and beef with the US, Russia is engaged in resolving the differences with a dozen other major meat exporting countries. Both the global and country-specific TRQs must be hammered-out. Russia’s Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina said last month she expected Russia to complete negotiations at least for agricultural commodities, with WTO members on the terms of its accession within a matter of months.

The National Chicken Council contacted an official at the Office of the US Trade Representative to determine the US government position on the proposed TRQ for poultry and red meat. This official indicated that the US government is in the process of determining a position and would welcome input from the US poultry industry on the issue. The official also said there has not been further official response from the Russian government elaborating on the initial report for the status of certain poultry plants that were audited by Russian Veterinarians in October.

In addition to the TRQ issues, Russia must also resolve differences with WTO members over the amount of farm subsidy spending it will be permitted each year once it joins the WTO. Russia originally said it wanted to fix the spending cap on trade-distorting subsidies at $9.2 billion per year, well above its current spending, but that proposal ran into stiff opposition from the US and the Cairns Group of farm exporting nations. Earlier this year, Russia indicated it was willing to reduce its proposed cap by half but only over a transition period extending to 2018 and only if Russia secures membership in time to start phasing in the cuts from 2012.

Russia first applied for WTO membership in what was then the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the WTO’s predecessor, in 1993.
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