Vilsack & Kirk both determined to have Russia honor the terms of recent poultry agreement

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, Aug. 4 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk confirmed Wednesday that Russia isn't complying with the recently signed poultry agreement. They say that with product approved, packaged and ready for shipment, the Russians came back with an unexpected demand this week to inspect or audit U.S. poultry processing facilities. The two also noted that Russia's apparent backing out of the deal raises questions about whether Russia should be allowed to join the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Vilsack commented that “From our perspective, we have a deal that was agreed upon by the two presidents of the countries, Russia and the United States.” He said “we have complied in all detail.” But he said “Russia suggested that there needed to be one further step that was not part of the discussion, not part of the agreement, which was some kind of audit process which we think is unnecessary and is really not appropriate given the agreement that was reached.”

With negotiations under way over this latest disagreement over poultry, Vilsack said that “we're going to continue to fight on this issue and express our intent to follow the agreement . . . and hopefully we'll be able to get shipments through as quickly as possible.”

Vilsack said that “If Russia were part of the WTO, there obviously would be other mechanisms we could utilize, but they're not. And if they want to be part of the WTO, obviously complying with agreements and following through with agreements is an important consideration.”

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