US president George Bush and Russian president Vladimir Putin have announced a ground-breaking agreement on the import and export of meat. The settlement has met with approval from key industry bodies such as the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), and the American Meat Institute (AMI).
Industry experts believe that the deal will provide lucrative new export market opportunities for American producers and establish an important foundation on which future working relationships can be built.
"The tariff rate quotas established under this agreement not only allow US beef producers to serve this valuable international market today, but to grow the market in the future," said NCBA president Eric Davis.
"For cattle producers, Russia can provide a fine market for US beef products, and we commend the efforts of USTR ambassador Robert Zoellick, chief agriculture negotiator Allen Johnson and the negotiating teams from both countries."
USMEF president Philip Seng also said he was pleased with the agreement. "It provides the working framework with which to develop the practices and protocol needed for a long-term relationship.
"Particularly important to us is that certain high-quality meats recognized under the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) so-called Hilton definition are exempted from the quota system. Russia provides considerable growth potential and the U.S. will have a key role in meeting this growth."
The AMI said that the agreement sets the stage for Russia to become a full and active member in the WTO. NCBA, USMEF and AMI agree that integrating Russia into a rules-based global trading environment will be key to advancing this trading relationship.