More U.S. food going on Russian plates

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. and Russia inked a bilateral trade deal Nov. 10 regarding Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization.
American Farm Bureau Federation believes this agreement will result in significant benefits for U.S. farmers and ranchers in terms of expanding export market accessibility.
That was the message conveyed in a letter AFBF President Bob Stallman wrote to President George W. Bush.
“A trade agreement with Russia will allow the U.S. to increase its agricultural exports significantly by raising U.S. market share toward levels the European Union has achieved,” said Stallman.
The U.S. currently has just 6 percent of the Russian market, but that share has been slowly increasing.
Demand to rise. As Russia’s economy continually gets better and demand for higher quality food increases, there will be an increased market for agricultural products derived from American soil.
Russia is roughly a $1 billion export market for the U.S., with the largest market being poultry.
Previously, tariffs have been the ultimate instrument used by Russia to regulate the import of agricultural goods, which puts U.S. producers at a disadvantage. The average tariff rate for Russia is 21 percent for food and fiber products.
Tariffs. Lowering tariffs would give U.S. farmers and ranchers a fair shake when competing with other suppliers, according to Stallman.
Russia’s entry into the WTO may ease ongoing tariff disputes as well as other trade concerns in the future.
“The agreement addresses trade concerns particularly with respect to agriculture, where our veterinary services will work closer together. This should resolve long-standing issues that have impeded U.S. agricultural exports of beef, pork, poultry and biotech products,” said Stallman.
Almost finalized. To complete its accession into the WTO, Russia must finalize its remaining bilateral market access negotiations and complete other multilateral negotiations.
Although AFBF recognizes the deal is not sealed until further obligations are met, Stallman said the initial step has been accomplished.
“U.S. farmers and ranchers can refer to this trade agreement as a great accomplishment and yet another opportunity to expand their presence in the global marketplace, which will ultimately add to their profitability and put quality U.S. food products on Russian plates,” said Stallman.

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