WASHINGTON (DTN)--A day after Russia formally lifted its ban on U.S. chicken, on April 16, poultry imports remained on indefinite hold after Russia canceled permits to import U.S. poultry and said Russian trading companies would have to apply for new ones, according to OsterDowJones news service.

Russia's Agriculture Ministry said that the new permits were necessary because of changes in veterinary certificates and regulations for imported poultry meat. A ministry spokeswoman refused to speculate April 16 on how long the process would take, or when Russian companies would be allowed to import chicken again.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said it appeared that veterinary officials were now using an import licensing system to restrict trade. He said it was unclear "on what basis they're denying their own importers the right to import U.S. poultry."

Russia formally lifted its month-long ban on American chicken April 15, after weeks of negotiations with U.S. officials, but warned it was still not entirely satisfied with the quality of U.S. poultry meat. Russian veterinary officials have alleged that sanitary conditions in U.S. plants were poor and objected to the use of antibiotics and feed additives in U.S. chicken production.

First Deputy Agriculture Minister Sergei Dankvert said Russia would temporarily refuse to accept chicken from four states, Virginia, North Carolina, Maine and Pennsylvania, because Russian inspectors allegedly had found diseased chicken there.

Under a joint protocol signed last month, the U.S. agreed to issue new veterinary certificates to U.S. poultry producers, and the two sides outlined procedures for salmonella testing.

Chicken is the top American export to Russia, bringing $600 million to $700 million a year to producers in 38 U.S. states. The dispute has clouded relations ahead of U.S. President George W. Bush's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month.

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