Russia restricts US meat products after approval of trade bill

Russia announced that it will require imports of U.S. pork and beef to be free of the feed additive ractopamine after the Senate on Thursday voted to establish permanent normal trade relations with the world's ninth economy.

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Russian officials denied allegations that the decision was in retaliation for sanctions against Russian human rights abusers adopted in conjunction with the trade bill. Many countries, including the European Union and China, ban the growth promoter.

The Russian health agency in a statement on its web site late Friday said the Russian authorities would test U.S. imports themselves for an unspecified period of time.

“During this period the veterinary service of the suppliers have to create a system of laboratory testing of products certifying the absence of ractopamine,” the regulator said in a statement, according to Reuters.

The U.S. agriculture and trade agencies sternly objected in a joint statement Saturday.

“The United States is very concerned that Russia has taken these actions, which appear to be inconsistent with its obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a statement. “The United States calls on Russia to suspend these new measures and restore market access for U.S. beef and pork products.

“The United States sought, and Russia committed as part of its WTO accession package, to ensure that it adhere rigorously to WTO requirements and that it would use international standards unless it had a risk assessment to justify use of a more stringent standard. Especially in light of its commitment to use international standards, this is an important opportunity for Russia to demonstrate that it takes its WTO commitments seriously.”