Russia wants in the World Trade Organization (WTO), but when it comes to trade, it sometimes plays by its own rules. Among those that U.S. meat exports have had to deal with at whim are sanitary and phytosanitary requirements.  

In a letter to Sergey Kislyakto, Russia's ambassador in Washington, D.C., 83 members of the U.S. House of Representatives challenged Russia to do its part to ensure its inclusion into WTP. Among the issues cited that Russia revise its sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) requirements and comply with those outlined by the WTO.  

The congressmen told the ambassador that Russia's requirements are “fundamentally inconsistent with the core provisions of the WTO SPS Agreement.” They further challenged that Russia's standards are used to restrict imports of U.S. agricultural products.

Russia also makes changes to its quotas system as it wishes, thereby cutting off access. The National Pork Producers Council is working with the Obama administration on behalf of the U.S. pork industry to see that the country commits to abiding by all WTO trade rules and standards before it joins the WTO.  

Russia holds strong potential for U.S. pork, beef and poultry exports. But the country has opened and closed it's doors frequently to U.S. poultry and on occassion to U.S. pork. As an example, in 2010, U.S. poultry exports droped to $316 million from 2009's level of $762 million. Since 2008, U.S. pork exports to Russia have dropped 60 percent. Following the Novel H1N1 influenza outbreak in the spring of 2009, the virus' mis-labeling and mis-association with swine, Russia closed its market to U.S. pork for a year. It was among the last countries to re-open its market. Last year the United States exported $204 million of pork to the country.  

The congressmen told the Russina ambassador, “Once such an agreement is concluded, we look forward to working to repeal Jackson-Vanik and pass Permanent Normal Trade Relations for Russia.”