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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Meat Producers Dissatisfied With European Importers

One of Russia's largest meat producers joined with Moscow city officials Wednesday to blast what they consider to be unfair competition by European importers that has cost the country 5,000 jobs and $416 million.

"We are not against importers," said Musheg Mamikonyan, chairman of the Cherkizov meat processing plant. "But they should operate strictly within [Russia's] tax laws."

Officials with the plant used the occasion to kick off a public campaign against what it described as loopholes that allowed foreign importers to import their products at prices lower than the minimum set by the government.

A number of European countries, in particular Poland and Belgium, were guilty of taking an unfair advantage of the tariffs law, Mamikonyan said. Some European countries allow such "dumping" to occur because they subsidize their meat industries, he said.

Foreign imports in one category, salted and smoked meat products, shot up from 44 tons to 232 tons in 1997, at an average price of 43 cents a kilogram, Mamikonyan said.

Mamikonyan said the category should have a minimum price such as the 0.4 ecu ($0.44) per kilogram set for similar types of meats. Losses due to the smoked meats category cost the federal budget about 1 billion rubles ($167 million) in 1997, he said.

Yevgeny Panteleyev, head of the city's industry department, stressed his concern over rising imports in the face of a continued decline in the Russian meat industry but said there were no plans for unilateral restrictions on meat imports.

Andreas Papadopoulos, economic councilor for the European Commission's delegation in Russia, said that if Russia decided to resort to protectionist measures on meat products, the commission would hope that "they would be fair measures -- applied in accordance with Russia's recent law on protection [of Russia's economic interests] as well as its international commitments."