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Russia Partly Lifts Ban on US Poultry - 2002-04-15


Russian officials Monday partially lifted a ban on poultry imports from the United States. The ban was implemented earlier this year for health reasons but grew into a major dispute between the two countries.

Officials at the Agriculture Ministry on Monday said they were once again allowing American checken to be imported into Russia. But Monday's announcement came with some restrictions.

Some U.S. companies and states that produce chicken will still be barred from exporting to Russia. And the Agriculture Ministry said it reserves the right to restrict imports again in the future if necessary.

Russia banned imports of U.S. chicken on March 10. They said the American poultry did not meet Russian safety standards. Specifically, Russia questioned the use of antibiotics in U.S. chickens and later said they had found traces of salmonella on poultry imported from America.

U.S. officials have strongly denied their chicken is in any way unsafe. They say the chicken ban was simply Russian retaliation for tariffs that were placed on steel imports into the United States.

Russia is the biggest buyer of U.S. poultry. About 40 percent of all U.S. chicken exports goes to Russia.

On Saturday, the Russian Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev, announced Russia would be lifting the chicken ban, which would go into effect on Monday. But he said four U.S. states and 14 companies would still be barred from exporting chicken to Russia.

Mr. Gordeyev also accused the United States of using double standards. He said the U.S. allows meat to be exported that is not of high enough quality to sell at home. Washington and U.S. poultry producers have denied these charges.

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