MOSCOW, Russia – Following a successful agriculture trade mission led by Canada’s Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, Canadian livestock producers now have stronger ties to Russia. Ritz welcomed the conclusion of bilateral negotiations on agriculture related elements for Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) while in Moscow following meetings with Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov and Minister of Agriculture Elena Skrynnik.

Canadian agriculture exporters can look forward to improved and more predictable access to the Russian market, opening up opportunities for Canadian products once Russia gains WTO membership, Ritz said.

Ritz thanked Russia for its support for extending Canada's current veterinary export certificates until Jan. 1, 2013. This extension comes after he discussed with his Russian counterparts on various occasions the importance of continued trade with Russia and the Customs Union. This extension will allow key exports such as fish and seafood, livestock, meat products, animal genetics and day-old poultry and hatching eggs to continue to be exported to Russia until a long-term agreement can be concluded with the Customs Union.

In 2010, the Customs Union access was valued at approximately $288 million (US$282 million) for Canadian farmers and producers.

Ritz also led a Canadian industry delegation and joined them for a Canada-Russia Dialogue on meat, livestock and genetics, which built upon the Canada-Russia Livestock Forum held in Ottawa last June. The meeting concluded with the signing of an agreement between Canada Pork International and the Russian Meat Union that will increase cooperation that benefit trade. This agreement will result in joint initiatives, such as personnel exchange, technology demonstration and workshops and information sharing.

"Russia is a growing market and vital partner for Canada's agriculture sector, especially for the livestock industry," Ritz said. "Our government is pleased to facilitate building stronger trade partnerships for the benefit livestock industries in both countries."

On Oct. 15, Ritz plans to visit one of Russia's unique pork production companies, Mortadel, which operates using Canadian genetics and applies Canadian swine production technology. He will get a first-hand look at how Canadian knowledge and inputs can benefit-Russia and discuss potential growth and trade opportunities for the Canadian industry.

In 2010, Canada was the largest provider of imported pure-bred breeding swine to Russia with exports valued at $8 million (US$7.8 million), representing one-fourth of the market share. That same year Canada exported pork valued at $185 million (US$ 181 million); beef valued at $24 million (US$23.5 million); and soybeans valued at $22 million (US$21.5 million) to Russia, as well as other agricultural products.