U.S. trade officials have been working on Russia to re-open its doors to U.S. meat exports, particularly pork, following the closure imposed in response to the Type A H1N1 influenza outbreak. Russia had ended all meat imports from several U.S. states even though world health authorities emphasized that humans cannot contract the virus by eating pork.
U.S. trade officials contend that Russia's action has no scientific validity and that it's politically driven versus related to protecting human health. The Russians have taken particular offense to that accusation, which may only make them dig deeper in their position.
Sergei Dankvert, head of Rosselkhoznadzor, told Reuters that issues related to meat trade should be negotiated by business people and veterinarians, not politicians. "Strangely enough, we have to argue not with veterinarians, but with officials," Dankvert was quoted as saying. "The more the situation is pegged to politics, the worse it becomes."
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk has reiterated the position that the United States plans to step up enforcement of trade agreements and focus on removing technical barriers to U.S. meat and poultry exports.
Both Rosselkhoznadzor and Russia's poultry lobby plans to discuss issues related to U.S. meat trade with producers and veterinarians at the World Organization for Animal Health annual meeting underway this week in Paris.
For more information, visit Pork Magazine's H1N1 Special Section.