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Russia cuts US 2010 pork import quotas

Russia has cut its 2010 import quotas, meaning fewer pork imports will be allowed in at low duty rates compared to this year, news agency Reuters reports.

The announcement comes as the US hog and meat industry aims to recover from the blow caused by high feed prices and weak global demand, and as Russia aims to become more self-sufficient in meat production.

Pork import quota
US industry experts were quoted to be disappointed, but hoped Russia might raise the volumes during the year. Russia set its annual import quota for US pork to 57,500 tonnes, down from 100,000 tonnes in 2009. For US poultry it was set at 600,000 tonnes, down from 750,000 tonnes in 2009.

Ron Plain, a livestock economist at the University of Missouri, called '57% of year-ago is not encouraging news' for pork. "But they have been known to change their mind."

US exporters can ship pork to Russia outside the quota – at higher tariff rates – but that normally happens only when the economy is strong, said Joe Schuele, a spokesman for the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

Aside from the quota cut, US pork trade with Russia has been threatened by recent bans on pork from many US plants after Russia said it found high levels of an antibiotic residue.

The bans "had an immediate and devastating impact on our industry," and are not based on acceptable scientific standards, US trade representative Ron Kirk said, noting US officials are trying to get the bans lifted.

It would be easier to solve trade irritants with Russia if Russia were a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Kirk said, but the accession process has stalled since June.

For beef, Russia increased its 2010 import quota to 21,700 tonnes for the United States, up from 18,500 tonnes in 2009.

Related websites:
US Meat Export Federation (USMEF)
World Trade Organization (WTO)

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