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    RUSSIA DISTRIBUTES MEAT IMPORT QUOTAS

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    MOSCOW, January 12, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Ministry of Economic Development and Commerce has distributed forty percent of the 2004 import quotas for pork, beef and poultry, the ministry's press service reports.

    Most of the meat import quotas are distributed along the so-called "historical principle," meaning that preference is given to purveyors involved with importing meat to Russia for some time now, explained Konstantin Bogdanov, official spokesman for the ministry.

    Under a governmental resolution, 40 percent of the total amount of quotas shall be distributed in proportion to the average 2002/2003 imports while the distribution of the remaining 60 percent shall be based on the average figure for 2003. Ten percent of all quotas shall be distributed on a competitive basis, Bogdanov said.

    The distribution of quotas along the "historical principle" is to be completed before August 1. And successful bidders will be awarded their share in the spring.

    Meat imports have been quoted in Russia since April 2003, with the idea behind being to support home producers. According to the Economics Ministry, the measure has already yielded positive results, leading to domestic meat production growth and heavier investment in the sector.

    The 2004 quotas are in effect starting January 1. A total 420,000 tons of beef and 450,000 tons of pork is expected to come into Russia from abroad this year. Some 331,800 tons of beef and 227,300 tons of pork will be brought from EU nations, Hungary, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. The United States has got quotas for the import of 17,200 tons of beef and 42,200 tons of pork; Paraguay has received quotas for 3,000 tons and 1,000 tons, respectively.

    As for poultry imports, the 2004 quota has been set at 1,500,000 tons. Of this amount, 771,900 tons falls on the U.S. share and 205,000 tons, on that of EU nations, Hungary, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. Paraguay will have the right to import 5,000 tons of poultry into Russia this year.

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