MOSCOW, August 19 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s ban on US meat imports is harming a promising market in beef and pork that US exporters would like to be able to serve, according to Joe Schuele, Communications Director at the US Meat Export Federation.
“The US did have record-high beef exports to Russia in 2012, totaling more than $300 million, so it is a promising market we would like to be able to serve. But with the market already closed, we do not expect any impact from this latest action,” Schuele told RIA Novosti late on Monday. He noted that the July ban on beef exports could not hurt the industry any more, “because Russia has been closed to US beef for the past 19 months.”
Responding to sanctions on the finance and energy sector by western countries, the Russian government responded on August 7 with a ban on meat, dairy, fruit and vegetable imports from United States, Canada, New Zealand, and the European Union. Many in the US have played down the impact of the sanctions, in part because Russia had already imposed a ban on US pork and beef. In February 2013, Russia banned US beef and pork because of the use of ractopamine, a potentially dangerous drug additive used in Americans’ livestock feed, but banned in 160 countries.
“The [recent] ban will have a limited - though not insignificant - impact on US pork exports,” Schuele said. He claimed that two pork slaughter plants had re-gained access to Russian markets and “monthly shipments had been increasing steadily prior to the [August] 7 suspension. June exports... were quite large at 9,371 metric tons (mt) valued at $34.3 million.”
The Russian market, the 11th largest in the world, with 140 million consumers and a growing middle class, holds significant business opportunities, according to the US Commercial Service. While US-Russian trade is only $38.1 billion, losing parts of that market can harm the US, according to American livestock exporters.