07MOSCOW4243, MOSCOW: IMPORT SAFETY WORKING GROUP

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW4243 2007-08-29 14:40 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0018
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #4243/01 2411440
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 291440Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3389
INFO RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC PRIORITY 5027

UNCLAS MOSCOW 004243 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EEB/TPP/ABT (SAXTON), EUR/RUS (PATTERSON) 
USDA FOR FAS/OA/JACKSON, OSTA/BRANT, OCRA/FLEMINGS, PASS 
FSIS AND APHIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAGR ECON ETRD TBIO RS
SUBJECT: MOSCOW:  IMPORT SAFETY WORKING GROUP 
 
REF: A. SAXTON-CATON EMAIL (8/22) 
     B. STATE 114788 
     C. MOSCOW 3724 
     D. MOSCOW 3039 
     E. MOSCOW 1691 
     F. MOSCOW 767 
     G. 06 MOSCOW 12692 
     H. 06 MOSCOW 12302 AND PREVIOUS 
 
 1.  (SBU) SUMMARY:  On August 20, we provided information on 
the President's Interagency Working Group on Import Safety to 
a wide range of Russian government offices.  Contacts at the 
Ministry of Health and Social Development (MOHSD) expressed 
general interest in participating in a future dialog on food 
and product safety, but asked for additional detail.  They 
agreed to circulate Ref B points to colleagues and promised a 
coordinated response by the end of September.  Since 2004 
Embassy Moscow has been engaged in a food safety dialog with 
Russian counterparts, with a primary focus on protectionist 
policies and abuse of sanitary and phytosanitary standards, 
and we note that such discussion is apt to continue to be 
difficult.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (SBU)  We provided information on the President's 
Interagency Working Group on Import Safety to the Ministries 
of Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Economic Development and 
Trade (MEDT), and Health and Social Development, and the 
Federal Service for Consumer Protection and Human Well-Being 
(Rospotrebnadzor) on August 20.  Representatives of the 
International Departments of MOHSD and Rospotrebnadzor 
welcomed the establishment of the Working Group and expressed 
general interest in participating in a future dialog on food 
and product safety, but asked for additional information on 
the working group's strategic goals and possible topics for 
discussion.  MOHSD agreed to circulate Ref B points to other 
counterparts in the Russian government and promised a formal 
response by the end of September. 
 
3.  (SBU)  On August 23, EST officer met with Oleg Chestnov, 
deputy director of MOHSD's International Department and 
Marina Sheviryova, deputy director of MOHSD's Department of 
Human Welfare and Consumer Protection.  According to 
Chestnov, at least three groups within MOHSD would be 
involved in issues of the safety of food or goods: 
Sheviryova's Department of Human Welfare and Consumer 
Protection, Rospotrebnadzor which handles food and most 
consumer goods, and the Federal Service for Supervision of 
Health Care and Social Development (Roszdravnador) which 
covers drugs and medical equipment. (NOTE:  Russian exports 
to the United States in 2006 totalled $19.8 billion, led by 
oil and other petroleum products, aluminum, metals and 
nuclear fuels.  U.S. exports to Russia were primarily 
machinery, meat -- mostly poultry, -- electrical equipment 
and high tech products.  END NOTE) 
 
4. (SBU)  Citing asbestos as an example, Chestov noted that 
Russia and the United States may not use the same approaches 
or have the same standards for determining whether a food 
product or consumer good is safe and does not pose a threat 
to human health or the environment.  Given the absence of 
uniform standards among different countries, Chestov said a 
dialog might provide a way to reach agreement in certain 
areas. In going forward and to avoid misunderstandings, he 
indicated that it would be critical to identify three areas: 
(1) agreed standards of health and safety; (2) areas of 
difference where discussion would be useful and we could work 
toward adopting a common approach, and (3) issues of 
fundamental disagreement where we are unlikely to make 
progress that should be left "to the future generation." 
 
5.  (SBU)  COMMENT:  Seeking to engage with Russian 
authorities on food safety is apt to be difficult. Embassy 
Moscow has been engaged in a food safety dialog with Russian 
counterparts in the federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary 
Service (VPSS) and Rospotrebnadzor since those bodies were 
created in April 2004.  Much of the discussion has revolved 
around Russia's overtly protectionist trade stance and 
restriction of trade through abuse of sanitary and 
phytosanitary standards that do not conform to international 
norms and the effect of that on Russia's bid to accede to the 
World Trade Organization.  The Agriculture Office here sends 
and receives an average of a letter on the issue every 
working day.  Digital video conferences between U.S. and 
Russian veterinary authorities are held regularly.  In the 
past two months, two teams of Russian veterinary specialists 
have traveled to the United States to inspect poultry and 
pork slaughter, processing and cold storage facilities. 
Another team of nine Russian veterinarians is scheduled to 
inspect U.S. beef facilities in September. 
 
6.  (SBU)  Two years ago, former Russian Dep
uty Minister of 
Agriculture Sergey Mitin told a visiting Codel that food 
imported from abroad posed the greatest threat of 
bioterrorism to Russia.  His statement encapsulates the 
drumbeat of press releases issued by VPSS each time a 
shipment of food products is seized for alleged violation of 
Russian food safety rules. Likewise, Rospotrebnadzor has 
imposed bans on imports of Georgian and Moldovan wines and on 
Georgian mineral water purportedly out of concern for food 
safety and public health, although many observers believe 
those bans were actually politically motivated.   Embassy has 
reported extensively on the context in which Russian import 
safety mechanisms (Refs C-H) among others operate which 
Washington agencies should find helpful.  Additional 
reporting, including GAIN RS7046 and RS7326, can be found on 
Embassy Moscow's classified website under the rubric 
"Agriculture Reporting." END COMMENT. 
Burns

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