Russia suspends meat import agreements

The world meat market has been shaken by the announcement that Russia will suspend some of the import agreements it made in a bid to become a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

According to international news agency Interfax, Russian PM Vladimir Putin said that deals concerning red meat and poultry were unfair, and would be suspended until Russia becomes a fully fledged member of the Geneva-based body.

"Not being a member of this organisation, we do not receive anything positive in return. This situation goes against our interests in certain sectors of the Russian economy, particularly agriculture," he said.

"We will suspend a number of programmes, but we will return to them as soon as we become a full-fledged member of the WTO."

The Kremlin has warned that it is planning to severly cut imports levels of pork and chicken meat, which were agreed three years ago.

Imports have already been banned from 19 US chicken plants with claims that US producers ignored warnings from Russian inspectors who examined the facilities last year.

The trading situation has been complicated by Russia's conflict with neighbouring Georgia. As a WTO member, Georgia holds a veto over Russia's admission to the WTO, and has already announced objections to Russian membership.