MOSCOW (B)--Despite a formal permission of imports of animal origin from third countries via European ports issued by Russia's Chief Veterinarian Mikhail Kravchuk earlier March 28, U.S. meat container imports remain disrupted, Director of the Moscow office of the U.S.A. Poultry and Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) Albert Davleyev said March 28. He said the bad wording of the permit made the transit hardly possible.

Russia banned all European animal products March 26 as well as their transit via Europe for 21 days due to outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease. This move disrupted meat container imports via European ports, particularly from the U.S. and Brazil.

The veterinarian authorities published March 28 a clarification of the ban, formally permitting the transit. However, the clumsy phrasing of the clarification is unlikely to facilitate the imports, Davleyev said.

"This clarification raises more questions than it really clarifies. For instance, it says no storage of containers is allowed without giving any timeframe. But it is impossible to bring container from one ship to another without a brief storage," Davleyev said.

"The clarification provides also for obtaining some "official documents" from the port veterinarians. But no such form exists. And who is going to pay for these documents, anyway?" Davleyev said.

He said some Russian importers were likely to try to arrange the supplies using the current permit but said that the chances of the success were slim.

"Russia's veterinarian authorities have never held any consultations with importers. They are good specialists in their sphere but they are not aware of the transportation issues. The current clarification is an example of it," Davleyev said.

"The situation for importers has really deteriorated after the clarification because we do not know what steps to take now to remove the obstacles," he added.

U.S. container meat exports to Russia account for about 10 to 15% of the estimated 60,000 to 80,000 tonnes monthly U.S. meat exports to Russia. Poultry mechanically deboned meat (MDM), poultry and pork cuts for further processing is mainly exported by containers.

The imports of chicken leg quarters, which account for the lion's share of U.S. meat imports to Russia, are unaffected by the ban because the supplies are made in bulk directly to Russia.

Kravchuk told BridgeNews March 27 the ban was unlikely to be lifted soon. He added the period before the ban would be lifted might continue between six months and one year, according to the international veterinarian standards.

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