Also to participate in discussions about NATO missions, anti-corruption efforts and immigration
WASHINGTON – May 29, 2011 - Senator Chuck Grassley is traveling this week to participate in meetings in Brussels and Moscow. He said the trip provides an opportunity to address market access problems for soybean and pork producers in the United States and the need to protect intellectual property rights. He also will receive a briefing on NATO-led efforts in Libya and Afghanistan, discuss anti-corruption efforts of Russian law enforcement in cooperation with U.S. authorities, address human rights and press freedoms, and discuss U.S. visa requirements for Russian travelers.
Of the trade issues for American agriculture, Grassley said, “Both the European Union and Russia are imposing non-tariff trade barriers against soybeans and pork produced by U.S. farmers for the export market. The European Union’s position on soybeans has created uncertainty for farmers, traders, co-ops and processors in the United States. American farmers need the EU to engage in a dialogue to try to resolve an unfair situation. Likewise, Russia’s unjustified position against U.S. pork has delisted plants that account for 60 percent of U.S. pork production capacity. I look forward to taking on both of these issues in meetings this week.”
Grassley said he will deliver a letter on the soybean export dispute addressed to European Union Commissioner Karel De Gucht, the Directorate General for Trade. The Renewable Energy Directive of the European Union relies on a faulty Brazilian model to establish emission savings and applying directive guidelines all the way down to the farm level. Grassley said aggregate certification is needed as a fair trade matter for U.S. oilseed producers, along the lines of the sustainability requirement in the U.S. renewable fuel standard.
Separately, Grassley plans to deliver a letter about Russia’s unjustified limits on U.S. pork addressed to First Deputy Prime Minster of the Russian Federation Igor Shuvalov and Aide of the President of the Russian Federation Arkady Dvorkovich. Pork products from the United States face an array of sanitary phytosanitary restrictions by the Russian government. Grassley said that if Russia is to gain membership in the World Trade Organization, which it is currently seeking, then Russia needs to abandon import restrictions, like this one, which are unscientifically based. The United States was able to obtain commitments from China and Vietnam to overcome similar obstacles as part of those countries’ accession to the World Trade Organization. Twenty-five percent of all U.S. pork is produced in Iowa.
Grassley said that Russia’s desire to join the World Trade Organization also should help to encourage Russian officials to improve enforcement efforts to protect intellectual property rights, which are important to promoting innovation, creating jobs and advancing economic growth. He said the Senate-passed PROTECT IP Act that he sponsored this year with Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont provides a model for working to stop online piracy and the sale of counterfeit goods.
In other meetings, Grassley said he will seek more information about possible outcomes for the NATO-led effort in Libya and how military operations have shaped those possibilities. He also wants to ask for a NATO assessment of support from the Afghan people for the Karzai government, progress in eliminating government corruption, the capability of Afghan security forces, and the outlook for the strength of the Afghan National Army.
In Russia, Grassley said he is concerned about human rights abuses and efforts by government authorities to restrict media coverage and allow political pressure in the judicial system.
Grassley and others senators on the trip left Washington yesterday and will return on June 4. Grassley is Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. He is a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He is a senior member and former Chairman and Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over international trade.