Russia's WTO accession nearly complete good for U.S. meat
Through May, Russia has been one of this year's hottest markets for U.S. beef and pork.
Coming off a record performance in 2011, beef and beef variety meat exports to Russia were up 24 percent in volume (71.2 million pounds) and 83 percent in value ($138.8 million) compared to January-May 2011. Though not on a record pace, pork exports to Russia have also been very strong - with exports of pork and pork variety meat outpacing last year by 35 percent in terms of both volume (86.3 million pounds) and value ($115 million).
Prospects for further export growth to Russia have been bolstered by Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). Though Russia's invitation to join the WTO became official in December 2011, the Russian Parliament just recently (in late July) passed the legislative package necessary to complete its accession to the WTO. This means that many of the trade commitments Russia agreed to as part of its WTO accession with take effect Aug. 23.
As Thad Lively, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for trade access, explains, one of the primary benefits the U.S. meat industry will see on Aug. 23 is that the duty rate Russia charges on in-quota imports of U.S. pork will drop from 15 percent to zero. And because the United States is now a participant in the large (400,000 metric ton) global pork quota rather than still having its own smaller country-specific quota, this will clear the way for more U.S. pork to enter Russia on a duty-free basis.
As for U.S. beef exports to Russia, the duty on frozen muscle cuts will remain unchanged at 15 percent. However, the U.S. beef industry is already benefiting from the WTO accession because of Russia's commitment to increase the quota on U.S. beef imports from 40,000 metric tons last year to 60,000 metric tons in 2012. Though most U.S. beef exports to Russia are frozen, the U.S. industry may also be able to capitalize on a new 11,000 metric ton quota for chilled beef from suppliers outside of the European Union.
Lively adds that the final necessary piece of this package is for the U.S. Congress to extend permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status to Russia. He expects a vote to take place on this issue when Congress returns from its August recess.