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WASHINGTON, December 11 (Itar-Tass) — Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Islam Siddiqui is to arrive Moscow in order to discuss “issues of access to agricultural markets, including the US meat exports to Russia,” USTR press service told Itar-Tass commenting on the purpose of the visit that is scheduled for Wednesday.
Assistant to the President of the United States and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Michael Froman will be simultaneously in Moscow. However, his trip is apparently not directly related to the disputes over the supply of US meat to Russian markets. The press service of the White House National Security Council explained to Itar-Tass that the expert will represent his country at a meeting of the Group of Twenty sherpas – emissaries of the national leaders. Froman is such a sherpa.
A few days ago Russia announced that it blocks the access to its markets for foreign meat products containing ractopamine. This stimulator of muscle growth of animals is used in the United States and Canada. This feed additive is used to promote leanness in animals raised for their meat and to save on fodder. However, its application is fraught with side effects and is illegal in many countries, including China, India and the EU member states, in addition to Russia. The studies made by American scientists have shown that animals fed with ractopamine are bad in breeding and are not intended for breeding.
United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on December 8 issued a statement in response to Russia’s new requirements that US beef and pork exports to Russia be tested and certified free of the feed additive ractopamine: “The United States is very concerned that Russia has taken these actions, which appear to be inconsistent with its obligations as a member of the World Trade Organisation. The United States calls on Russia to suspend these new measures and restore market access for US beef and pork products. The United States sought, and Russia committed as part of its WTO accession package, to ensure that it adhere rigorously to WTO requirements and that it would use international standards unless it had a risk assessment to justify use of a more stringent standard. Especially in light of its commitment to use international standards, this is an important opportunity for Russia to demonstrate that it takes its WTO commitments seriously.”
The US authorities pretend that Russia’s decision was a surprise to them and have expressed doubts about its validity. Meanwhile, relatively recently they themselves have assumed the obligation not to export to Russia meat from animals that were “exposed to natural or synthetic estrogenic or hormonal substances, thyreostatic drugs, antibiotics or other drugs and pesticides.” The relevant veterinary certificates, signed by representatives of both countries, are publicly available on the websites of the corresponding agencies. A Russian specialist told Itar-Tass in this connection that “if the Americans do not know themselves what international obligations they assume, it does not mean that Russia should follow their whims,” ·· because “ignorance of the law is no excuse.”