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Last Updated: Monday, 5 May, 2003, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
Russia resolves US chicken row
Chicken for sale in Moscow
Russia depends on imported chicken

Moscow and Washington have resolved their most intractable trade row in post-Soviet history - over US exports of chicken.

Russia banned imports of US chicken a year ago, citing health standards - but in fact reacting to US moves to block steel imports, Washington alleged.

Since then, the two sides have been locked in painstaking negotiation over safety standards in the US poultry sector, poring over the industry plant by plant.

Now, the US Department of Agriculture has said it has satisfied Russian officials, and that Russian inspections of US plants will be completed by July.

Big business

The spat disrupted one of the liveliest streams of business between the two countries.

Since the collapse of communism, US food companies have been increasingly important on the Russian market; in 2001, Russia bought US chicken worth $586m (365m).

Many policy makers in Moscow are concerned, however, at the country's heavy dependence on imported staple goods, something that is seen as preventing the development of competitive industries within Russia.

And there is resentment against US protectionist policies, which emerged when Washington attempted to block imports of steel from many countries last year.

Russia cannot afford to anger the US too much, however - it is currently applying to join the World Trade Organisation, and needs to demonstrate its willingness to compromise in international disputes.

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