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Russia May Impose Quotas on Poultry Imports - 2002-04-07

Russia says it may introduce quotas on imported poultry products, a move that may complicate efforts to overcome a trade dispute with the United States.

Russia's Agriculture Minister Alexander Gordeyev says quotas may be imposed on chicken imports. He also says a total ban on American poultry may not be lifted in the next few days, as the United States has hoped. Mr. Gordeyev told Russian reporters the setting of quotas will be decided in May, and that it is too early to lift the ban.

Moscow imposed the ban a month ago due to health concerns, including what the Russians see as the overuse of antibiotics by American poultry farmers. They also say salmonella bacteria has been found in certain shipments of U.S. chicken.

U.S. veterinarians insist these concerns are overblown. During the past month they have held a series of talks with their Russian counterparts hoping to resolve the issue.

Before the ban, U.S. chicken accounted for a large share of the Russian market, about $700 million per year. Russian consumers have long preferred American poultry, and analysts say the Russian Agriculture Ministry wants to decrease dependence on imported foodstuffs by boosting domestic production.

The dispute may also be partly due to Russian anger over new U.S. tariffs on imported steel, which will affect Russian steel producers.