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Cablegate: Russian Vet Service Requests

VZCZCXYZ0032
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #3525/01 3401403
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 051403Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC PRIORITY 5412
INFO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1004
RUEHVI/AMEMBASSY VIENNA 4693
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 5245

UNCLAS MOSCOW 003525

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

USDA FAS FOR OCRA/KUYPERS; OSTA/HAMILTON, BEAN;
ONA/SALLYARDS, MURPHY
PASS FSIS/JONES, DUTROW
PASS APHIS/MITCHELL
STATE FOR EUR/RUS, EB/ATP/SINGER
STATE PASS USTR FOR CHATTIN
BRUSSELS PASS APHIS/FERNANDEZ
VIENNA PASS APHIS/TANAKA
GENEVA FOR USTR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ETRD TBIO WTO RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN VET SERVICE REQUESTS
CONSULTATIONS WITH USDA

REF: A) HANSEN/DUTROW EMAIL 12/4/08, B) MOSCOW
3181, C) MOSCOW 2949

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Russian Chief Veterinary
Officer Nikolay Vlasov has requested, via
official letter, consultations with USDA's Food
Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) in Moscow
before December 20, 2008 to discuss Russian
concerns with the quality and safety of U.S. meat
and poultry shipments to Russia. In addition,
Russian Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary
Surveillance Service (VPSS) reps would like to
discuss issues with the interpretation of the
agriculture-related November 2006 bilateral
agreements, including the side letter on
inspections that granted FSIS the authority to
independently certify that U.S. meat and poultry
plants meet Russian requirements and are eligible
for export. An original scanned copy and
courtesy translation of the letter were sent to
FSIS and FAS (REF A). An informal embassy
translation of the letter follows. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) BEGIN TEXT:
December 4, 2008
FS-NV-2/12318

Assistant Administrator
Office of International Affairs
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
Dr. Ronald K. Jones

The Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary
Surveillance Service (VPSS) extends its warm
regards to the Food Safety and Inspection Service
(FSIS). In response to your letter November 10,
2008, I inform you of the following:

VPSS supports FSIS' point of view regarding the
importance of trade of meat and fresh meat
products between the Russian Federation and the
United States and the necessity to continue the
dialogue on actual issues in the realm of
veterinary surveillance.

VPSS has concerns about the validity of FSIS'
guarantees that U.S. meat producing
establishments are compliant with Russian
veterinary requirements and norms. We base these
concerns on the results of recent joint audit of
poultry and pork establishments and also on the
results of monitoring tests for prohibited and
harmful residues. The relevant information has
repeatedly been sent to FSIS.

According to international standards, the
veterinary services of the importing country has
the right to be sure that the export certificates
are issued with the appropriate level of safety
guarantees and the official veterinarians who
issue the veterinary certificates should know
everything about the products subject to
certification.

In this connection, VPSS collected some data that
cause much concern. For instance, in your letter
of November 10, 2008, information was presented
that FSIS specialists do not require that Russian
veterinary requirements and norms are met. Apart
from causing us to doubt the competency of FSIS
specialists, it results in detention of U.S.
animal-origin products by federal control
agencies of the Russian Federation.

According to international veterinary norms, an
importing country has the right to require

guarantees that the information being provided by
the veterinary services of the exporting country
are impartial, reliable and precise. Therefore,
the general meaning of basic statements in export
certificates and the checklists of audited
establishments that have been negotiated between
Russia and the United States do not prevent the
procedure of inspection of the relevant entities
(manufacturers of animal-origin products,
farms/suppliers of animals for slaughter, and the
initial documents at the plants and farms). It
is the only way to evaluate the overall level of
animal health control, ability to trace back to
the origin of meat products, overall capabilities
of laboratory tests, quality of treatment of
animals, control of the administration of
veterinary medicines, and the implementation of
other important aspects of the chain which are
critical in maintaining trust between our
services. The majority of issues that were
raised in your letter of November 10, 2008 would
be solved this way.

The maximum residue levels of prohibited
and harmful substances in products of animal
origin are stipulated in the actual legislation
of the Russian Federation for products of Russian
and foreign suppliers. Products of animal origin
that arrive to our ports that do not comply with
those requirements are not allowed in the market.
Therefore, we completely follow the equivalency
principle regarding imported goods.

In spite of affirmations by FSIS representatives
that U.S. meat-processing establishments eligible
for the export of products to the Russian
Federation are certified as meetiBc .R.TcXQQce with the Russian norms. Therefore, we
cannot be sure that veterinary products imported
from the United States to the Russian Federation
comply with the Russian norms and regulations
even if we receive FSIS guarantees. We do not
understand what specific documents/criteria are
used as a basis for FSIS officials to sign
veterinary certificates on meat and meat products
exported from the United States to the Russian
Federation guaranteeing the complete
implementation of Russian veterinary-sanitary
requirements and norms.

In this connection, we consider it is necessary
to discuss the problems mentioned above during a
face-to-face meeting. In our letters FS-NV-2/9932
of October 1, 2008 and FS-AS-2/10864 of October
24, 2008, we informed FSIS that VPSS is ready to
conduct consultations in Moscow after November
20, 2008. Unfortunately, we have not received
proposals from the American side regarding the
matter.

At the same time, VPSS thanks FSIS for the
invitation to visit Washington on December 4-5,
2008, as was stated in your letter of November
25, 2008, to discuss issues of concern with the
bilateral agreements that were signed in Hanoi on
November 16, 2006, including issues on audits of
meat-processing establishments.

However, we plan such meetings in advance, making
it impossible to conduct them this year after our
business trips to Argentina, Chili, and Brazil.
Therefore, we propose that an FSIS delegation
come to Moscow anytime before December 20, 2008.


Dr. Jones, let me assure you of my highest
esteem.

Deputy Head
N.A. Vlasov
END TEXT.

3. (SBU) Post strongly encourages FSIS to send a
team to Moscow for consultations with VPSS
officials before December 20. VPSS has already
unilaterally backed out of the bilateral
agreement on inspection that gave FSIS the
authority to independently certify that U.S. meat
and poultry plants meet Russian requirements and
are eligible to export to Russia (REF B). VPSS
has also, on numerous occasions, questioned FSIS'
competency to guarantee that U.S. meat and
poultry shipments to Russia are safe and
wholesome (REF C). Progress on resolving the
numerous sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues
raised by VPSS are not likely to be resolved
through further exchanges of letters, and, at
this juncture, are better addressed through face-
to-face meetings.

BEYRLE

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