October 6, 2003

US Poultry Re-enters Ukraine Market

Ukraine has approved to start importing American poultry again, after an almost two-year ban.

Ukraine's agricultural policy minister, Serhiy Riyzhuk, said the hard-fought deal had been reached after months of negotiations. The final documents are expected to be signed during Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych visit to Washington next week.

"We are telling American business that the issue is now solved and they can send their poultry to Ukraine" said Riyzhuk.

The deal restricts imports to only those chickens that US health officials certify do not contain growth stimulants, hormones or other banned additives. "Such quality criteria ... are the same for the USA as for other countries" said Petro Verbytskyi, head of the ministry's Veterinary Department.

Ukraine has not imported any US poultry since imposing a ban in January 2002, Verbytskyi said. Before that, US producers supplied about 90 percent of all chicken imports to this ex-Soviet republic. In 2002, the last year before the ban, Ukraine imported 73,000 metric (80,468 US tons) of chicken.

Kiev slapped the ban on American producers because the US poultry industry widely uses antibiotics and chemicals to stimulate chicken growth, as well as preservatives and disinfecting substances to keep meat fresh. Such chemicals are banned in Ukraine, although US officials insist such chicken is safe to eat.

Verbytskyi said in April that a deal had been struck in Washington allowing Ukraine to withdraw the ban, but remaining problems held up the actual lifting of the ban.

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