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Senators Urge Lifting of Russian Trade Block

by 5m Editor
20 June 2011, at 12:00pm

US – Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, with Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska and 26 other senators, is urging the top US trade official to work to lift Russian trade barriers to US pork products.

Senator Grassley said: "Russia's unjustified position against US pork has blocked products from plants that account for 60 per cent of US pork production capacity. Russia wants to join the World Trade Organization. One of the issues Russia needs to address before joining is its unwarranted barriers to US pork."

The Grassley-Nelson letter to United States Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, outlines two major barriers from Russia to US pork. The first is Russia's unilateral lowering of the amount of US pork it allows to be imported, cutting the previously agreed-upon amount by about half. The second is Russia's use of sanitary restrictions to limit US pork exports to Russia. The Russian restrictions are not supported by science or valid risk assessments.

The letter urges the trade representative to work toward encouraging Russia to ease the unwarranted restrictions and abide by commitments as a precursor to joining the World Trade Organization. The United States was able to obtain commitments from China and Viet Nam to overcome similar obstacles as part of those countries' accession to the World Trade Organization. Twenty-five per cent of all US pork is produced in Iowa.

Senator Grassley is a member of the Agriculture Committee and former chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Finance, with jurisdiction over international trade. Signing the bipartisan letter include the chairman and ranking member of the Agriculture Committee.