Baucus Promotes Montana Beef with Russias Top Ag Leader
Senator Meets with Ag Minister in 5th Largest Market for American Beef, Also Holds Discussion with Anti-Corruption Activists
Posted: Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Posted: Tuesday, February 21, 2012
(Moscow, Russia) - Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus met with Russia's Minister of Agriculture Yelena Skrynnik today in Moscow to promote Montana beef. Russia is currently the 5th largest market for American beef, and Baucus is leading efforts in the Senate to secure even greater market access for Montana ranchers when Russia formally joins the WTO later this year.
"We've got everything to gain and nothing to lose from Russia joining the WTO, especially for Montana beef producers. Russia is already the 5th largest market for American beef, and this new partnership will make it cheaper and easier for Montana ranchers to sell even more beef in Russia," Baucus said. "This is a no brainer, and I'm eager to lead the way for Congress to take the necessary steps to make sure Montana companies can reap all the benefits of this new partnership."
"Max has been a tireless champion for Montana beef producers all over the world, and it's paid off with increased exports from Montana to important markets like South Korea and Chile. Russia is already a critical market for Montana ranchers and I'm thrilled to know Max is working hard to unlock even more potential for our top-quality beef," said Montana Stockgrowers Executive Vice President Errol Rice.
Ø With the legislation Baucus is pushing, Russia's accession to the WTO will significantly expand market access for American beef, by allowing 60,000 tons of frozen U.S. beef to be sold in Russia under a reduced tariff of 15 percent. In addition, Montana ranchers will also be able to take advantage of the ability for all countries to sell a total of 11,000 tons of fresh chilled beef at the reduced tariff. And, the United States will be able to export high-quality beef above the allotted amount at a 15 percent rate as well.
Ø Russia is already America's 5th largest export market for American beef by volume. The U.S. currently exports 48,000 tons and current tariffs fluctuate from 15 to 60 percent.
Today, Baucus also attended a roundtable discussion with anti-corruption activists and transparency advocates ahead of Russia's upcoming elections.
"I'm fighting hard for improved and expanded trade relations with Russia because that supports Montana jobs. At the same time, it's also important for the Russian people to know America will always stand on the side of democracy and the rule of law," Baucus said
Russia in the WTO
American exports of goods and services into Russia are expected to double to $19 billion within five years of Russia's accession to the WTO.
In order for American companies to receive the full benefits of Russia joining the WTO, the U.S. Congress must pass legislation providing Russia with what is known as Permanent Normalized Trade Relations (PNTR) before Russia formally joins the WTO. As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, with sole jurisdiction over international trade, Baucus is leading efforts to ensure PNTR is passed this year.
Russia agreed to open its markets and follow WTO rules as part of its accession to the WTO. Unlike a free trade agreement, the United States will not have to grant any market access benefits to Russia as part of its accession.
WTO member countries formally invited Russia to join the WTO in December 2011. Russia will become a WTO member 30 days after it ratifies the accession agreement, which it must do by early July.
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