WASHINGTON — The National Pork Producers Council and its state affiliate organizations asked the Obama administration in a letter to "slow the World Trade Organization accession process" for the Russian Federation until U.S. pork plants are relisted and Russia signs an "equivalence" agreement with the United States.
Russia has "delisted" or failed to relist 34 U.S. pork production, processing and storage facilities over the past year, meaning 40% to 50% of all U.S. pork production is now ineligible for export to the country.
N.P.P.C. charges Russia did not identify any health or sanitary reasons for its actions, which are contrary to obligations contained in a 2006 side agreement that is part of W.T.O. bilateral negotiations between Russia and the United States. The agreement established specific criteria and methods for Russian approval of U.S. pork plants.
Russia’s actions also are inconsistent with the W.T.O.’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement, which requires W.T.O trading partners to recognize the S.P.S. measures of other countries as equivalent to their own, the association said. Russia does not adhere to the W.T.O. principle of equivalence and approves U.S. meat facilities on a plant-by-plant basis, N.P.P.C. pointed out.
The U.S. government and the U.S. pork industry have demonstrated to Russian government officials the effectiveness of the U.S. pork plant inspection system in ensuring a high level of product safety, the group added.
"If Russia wants to join the W.T.O., it needs to play by the rules and stop its blatant actions to restrict U.S. pork," said Don Butler, N.P.P.C. president. "U.S. pork plants produce the safest product in the world, and they are inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Russia should accept our inspection system as being at least as good as its system."
N.P.P.C. and 31 state pork organizations urged the Obama administration to press Russia to relist all U.S. pork facilities as a condition for U.S. approval of its accession to the W.T.O. The organizations also urged the president to withhold Permanent Normal Trade Relations status from Russia until the country recognizes the U.S. plant inspection system as equivalent to its system.
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