The Russian government said this week that it has achieved progress in its World Trade Organization (WTO) entry negotiations with the United States on car assembly rules, but conceded that disagreements remained on meat import matters, according to a BNA report. “We have achieved serious progress,” thus nearing a common understanding with the United States on how the Russian vehicle assembly regulations will be adjusted to the WTO norms,” Russia’s Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina announced.  However, “substantial disagreements” remain on meat import regulations, she was quoted as saying in an announcement by the ministry’s press service.  In 2009, the Russian government set the country’s total poultry import quota at 600,000 metric tons for 2011, including the U.S. tariff rate quota (TRQ) of 446,400 tons.  In December 2010, however, Russia cut the total poultry quota to 350,000 tons for 2011.

The next informal meeting of the WTO’s working party on Russian accession is scheduled in Geneva on July 27-28.  Some WTO members believe they can wrap up negotiations on Russia’s membership terms before the end of the year, provided Moscow does its bit to facilitate progress.  The TRQ issue is one of the largest remaining irritants in the Russian accession talks.  Russia upset certain exporting nations last November when it announced its original offer to allow 470,000 metric tons of annual pork imports from WTO members under a TRQ was being reduced to 250,000 metric tons annually and that it was reducing its original offer on poultry by almost half, cutting the TRQ to 250,000 tons.  Under WTO rules, Russia must reach agreements on market access for goods and services with all WTO members seeking negotiations.  The best concessions from these agreements will be consolidated into a single schedule of market access commitments that make up part of the Russian accession package.

In a related report from Interfax, Russia’s Economy Ministry reportedly drafted proposals for TRQs on meat imports in 2012, including 250,000 metric tons of poultry and 80,000 tons of deboned poultry meat.  Pork quotas may be 320,000 tons and for pork trimming products 30,000 tons.  Frozen beef quotas may be set at 530,000 tons and the limit on fresh and chilled beef at 30,000 tons.