U.S. pork exports have achieved strong growth in Russia in 2011, reaching 63.8 million pounds valued at $85.2 million through the first five months of the year. This is nearly a 20 percent increase in volume and a 55 percent increase in value over the same period in 2010.

Last week, however, Russia announced its intention to lower the 2012 tariff rate quotas (TRQs) allotted to the countries that supply its imported pork. This is significant, because pork imported within the TRQs is only subject to a 15 percent duty while the duty rate on pork imported outside the TRQs is 75 percent.

As explained by U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Senior Vice President Thad Lively, the TRQs don’t place an absolute cap on imported pork, but they make imports beyond the TRQ volumes much less cost effective in an effort to bolster demand for Russia’s domestically produced pork. If the United States does receive a lower TRQ volume in 2012, this will likely have a dampening effect on next year’s exports to Russia.  

Lively adds that Russia’s quest to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) has the potential to provide some relief on this issue, as WTO membership would require Russia to administer its TRQs in a more uniform and transparent manner.

On a positive note, Russia announced no plans to reduce its TRQs on imported beef in 2012. Through May, U.S. beef exports to Russia totaled 57.4 million pounds valued at $76 million. This is steady with 2010 in terms of volume, but 8 percent higher in terms of value.