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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Poultry Dispute Still Not Resolved

APA shopper at a Moscow market buying chicken quarters imported from the United States, which were temporarily banned this year.
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman will meet with her Russian and Chinese counterparts in Rome this week to discuss trade disputes that have hampered U.S. poultry and soybean exports.

The government officials will be in Rome early this week attending the world food summit held by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Veneman told reporters Friday she will meet with Russian Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev.

Moscow's strict import controls on U.S. poultry are expected to top the agenda.

Russia banned imports of U.S. chicken and turkey, which were worth $640 million in 2001, from March 10 to April 15, citing health concerns about antibiotics in feed and salmonella.

Despite a partial lifting of the ban, exports have been slow to resume as Moscow has issued import licenses only for a limited amount of poultry meat.

"I don't know if there will be anything new," she said. "Minister Gordeyev and I have been talking periodically on the phone."

A team of Russian veterinarians arrived in Washington on Saturday on a six-day mission aimed at carving out a compromise on new poultry import certificates, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

The negotiations will start Friday in Washington and will last for a week, according to the Agriculture Ministry. The ministry's press office said Friday that it was likely that both sides would reach an agreement on the new veterinary certificates by the end of the week.

Both sides will also discuss the key issues of a new Russian-American protocol on U.S. poultry imports, which would replace the existing protocol that was signed in1996.

The ministry said a new protocol is needed since Russia has introduced more stringent demands on imported poultry meat.

Gordeyev said last month that the new protocol will "contain additional control over the use of antibiotics and other chemicals while feeding and growing poultry."

Smithfield Foods, the No. 1 U.S. pork producer, said Wednesday its quarterly profit fell by more than half as an excess of meat, caused partly by Russia's poultry ban, hurt prices.

Veneman also will meet with top Chinese government officials to clarify how Beijing intends to implement its new regulations on genetically modified organisms.

The United States, the world's biggest soybean grower, has lost an estimated $180 million in business due to China's vague regulations, which take effect on July 1. China has been the largest buyer of U.S. soybeans, of which 70 percent are now bioengineered.

(Reuters, MT)