Mexico to meet Russian demands on ractopamine, U.S., Canada stalling - watchdog

Mexico, following the example of Brazil, has officially confirmed that it is complying with Russian demands concerning the feed additive ractopamine in meat imports, but the United States and Canada are dragging their feet.

"Mexico today officially sent a message that it is strictly complying in meat shipments. The Canadians first said they agree to consultations, but after they held consultations with the Americans they are now apparently hesitating. But we are taking this in stride," Federal Veterinary and Phyto-Sanitary Oversight Service (Rosselkhoznadzor) head Sergei Dankvert told reporters on Monday.

He said "the Americans are not entering into negotiations, they have apparently as usual simply barred their veterinary service from leading the process."

"One must understand that there the issue is being politicized, but not being resolved as it should be," Dankvert said.

Asked about the outlook for the situation with meat exports from the United States, he said there could be a repeat of the situation with exports of poultry treated with chlorine. In that case, certificates for imports of U.S. poultry into Russia were not issued for six months. "An absolutely similar [situation] is developing. The only thing I can't understand: Over there, apparently, businesses, unlike ours, do not have a voice," Dankvert said.

He said there should not be any meat shortages due to the U.S. position, as there is current an oversupply of meat on the Russian market. In addition, Spain and Denmark could increase shipments. "We currently have sufficient open countries in order to compensate," Dankvert said.

Rosselkhoznadzor on Dec. 7 began to require imports of meat products from countries that use ractopamine to be accompanied by documents showing that these products were produced without the additive. These requirements will be in place for a transition period, the duration of which has yet to be determined.

The watchdog reckons that during this period the veterinary services of exporting countries should create a system of lab tests to verify the absence of ractopamine and in future have lab certificates showing the absence of ractopamine accompany every shipment of product intended for Russia and other countries in the Customs Union.

Ractopamine, which is banned in 160 countries, is most heavily used in the United States, Canada, Brazil and Mexico, according to Rosselkhoznadzor. The United States has urged Russia to reconsider the ban on imports of meat containing ractopamine. Russian and Brazilian experts, meanwhile, agreed last week on the conditions for imports of Brazilian meat according to Russian requirements.

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