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April 15, 2002   Email to Friend 

Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
April 15, 2002

Russia apparently has lifted its import ban on U.S. poultry, but there was some confusion over the weekend whether that was a partial or complete withdrawal of the prohibition. Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans and U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick issued a statement that said flatly Russia will lift its ban on U.S. poultry and poultry products effective today (Monday). Russian officials lifted the ban after they were satisfied that U.S. food safety systems met the March 31 protocol, they added.

However, a report from REUTERS quoted Russian Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev saying Saturday that Russia would lift its ban "partly" on U.S. poultry imports from today with four states remaining blacklisted because of fear of spreading poultry flu. The report added that Gordeyev, a deputy prime minister, appeared to backtrack from earlier comments that the two sides had resolved a month-long dispute which had strained Moscow-Washington ties.

"We are pleased that Russia has met its commitment to the March 31 protocol," said Veneman, Evans and Zoellick, "and will lift its ban on U.S. poultry and poultry products April 15, 2002. We applaud the work of the teams from the United States and Russia who worked diligently to resolve this trade issue as well as the work by U.S. officials at all levels of government. The March 31, agreement established a framework for closer cooperation between our two countries. The action today is an example of how trade disputes should be resolved in a reasoned and sound approach based on science, and we look forward to a continued positive trading relationship with Russia."

Meanwhile, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a notice regarding the resumption of poultry exports to the Russian Federation once the ban is lifted. The notice, titled "Export of Fresh/Frozen Poultry and Poultry Meat Products to the Russian Federation Once the Ban is Lifted," was issued last week to district managers by William Smith, acting deputy administrator of field operations and defines the conditions to be met by exporters of fresh/frozen poultry and poultry meat once the Russian ban on U.S. poultry is revoked.

The ban on U.S. poultry was to be lifted by April 10, subject to certain conditions. However, on Wednesday the Russians extended the embargo for two more days. First Deputy Agriculture Minister, Sergei Dankvert, has said that Russia remains only partially convinced their concerns have been met. As a result, the requirements listed in the notice may be altered prior to removal of the ban. To view the Notice, visit the FSIS web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OFO/export/2002-15.htm.

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