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Russia in WTO: Beef, chicken producers react differently

Two U.S. meat groups have had remarkably different reactions to the agreement for Russia to join the World Trade Organization.

Asked by The Hagstrom Report for a reaction to last week’s announcement, a National Cattlemen’s Beef Association spokesman noted in an email that “quite simply, we are thrilled.”

“Russia is one of the fastest growing export markets for U.S. beef,” the spokesman said. “Through October 2011, Russia was the fifth largest export market for U.S. beef with Russian consumers purchasing more than $222 million of U.S. beef. This is a 66 percent increase from 2010. In order to maintain this positive relationship, it is important for Russia to abide by sound scientific standards in compliance with the WTO.”

But Tom Super, vice president of communications for the National Chicken Council, had a more guarded reaction, representing members who have faced continual repeated conflicts with Russia over sanitation issues.

“NCC appreciates Ambassador [Ron] Kirk and his team of negotiators for their tireless and determined work in settling the issues that have blocked Russia’s accession to the WTO,” Super said. “We recognize that the conclusion of Russia’s membership involved tough negotiations over the past 18 years, including negotiations about poultry issues.

“The agreement that was reached will continue to allow Russia to remain one of the top export markets for U.S. poultry products,” he said. “We acknowledge the agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary measures and find it acceptable.

“However, we will continue to work with USTR and USDA to ensure that these provisions are fully implemented so that unreasonable and unnecessary trade disruptions to poultry do not occur. In addition, we’ll continue our work with the administration and Congress to help ensure the negotiated benefits for our products to Russia are in fact realized,” Super said.

“Importantly, the lifting of the Jackson-Vanik amendment to authorize the president to extend permanent normal trade relations to Russia will be key to realizing favorable market access.”