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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

WTO Negotiator Schwab Heads to St. Pete Forum

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab is heading to Russia this week for talks on Moscow's bid to join the World Trade Organization and other issues, a U.S. trade official said Friday.

Schwab is scheduled to participate in a panel on June 10 at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

While in the country, she will likely meet with Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref to discuss what additional steps Moscow needs to take to join the WTO, a spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative's office said.

Schwab will head to Russia after attending the Group of Eight summit meeting this week in Germany.

A continued ban on U.S. beef imports may be an issue on the bilateral agenda.

Karen Batra, a spokeswoman for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association said the U.S. industry was anxious to see a resumption of beef exports to Russia, which have been on hold since mad cow disease surfaced in the United States in 2003.

The industry has been waiting for months for Russian officials to arrive to inspect U.S. beef plants -- a move they say is long overdue under last year's bilateral agreement.

The U.S. case for renewed trade, Batra said, may well be strengthened by a new "controlled risk" safety rating for U.S. beef from the World Organization for Animal Health.

"So [Schwab] is probably going with that in her back pocket as well," Batra said.

n WTO talks between Russia and Georgia ended Thursday without agreement on disputed border crossings between the two countries.

Russian trade negotiator Maxim Medvedkov said the border question was not a WTO issue and that the trade it allows across its borders with these provinces is not illegal.