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Russia plans to cut 2009 pork import quotas

Russia plans to cut 2009 import quotas on pork by 200,000 tonnes, the agriculture minister announced, as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urged the government to speed up reform.

"We can replace these quantities with our own production," Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said at a government meeting in response to a question from Putin.

The long-awaited quota reduction is designed to help domestic producers and could hit suppliers in the United States. Russia, under an agreement that runs from 2005 until 2009, limits meat imports through a system of tariff quotas that increase every year.

Putin urged the government to speed up the process of revising the quotas. Economy Minister Elvia Nabiullina told the same meeting that a decision on the import quota cuts should be taken by Dec. 1.

This year, Russia permitted 1.21 million tonnes of tariff-free poultry imports, of which the United States can supply 901,400 tonnes. In August, Moscow banned imports from 19 U.S. producers, including three plants belonging to Tyson Foods, citing health and safety grounds.

Pork imports are set at 493,500 tonnes this year and were due to rise to 502,200 tonnes in 2009. The European Union has the largest share of the quotas.

Source: Reuters

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