As of August 22, 2012, Russia became the 156th member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and on December 21, 2012, President Obama signed legislation that extended permanent normal trade relations with Russia and Moldova. A day before approving this legislation, the U.S. and Russia agreed to an Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Action Plan in order to improve IPR protection and enforcement. It is important to remember that Russia is currently the U.S.’ 20th largest goods trading partner and that in 2011, Russia was the 14th largest import supplier to the U.S. It will be interesting to see how the U.S. and Russia attempt to increase their economic potentials now with less barriers to trade. Which key dimension will reign: Economics or Politics?
An article in The New York Times yesterday highlighted how Japan is set to ease a decade-old restriction on U.S. beef this week, finally allowing American ranchers and meatpackers to move past the mad cow scare and regain full access to what was once their most lucrative market.
A Japanese government council that oversees food and drug safety cleared a change in import regulations on Monday that would permit imports of meat from U.S. cattle aged 30 months or younger, rather than the current 20 months, according to materials distributed at the council’s meeting in Tokyo.
The change is set to take effect on Feb. 1 for U.S. beef processed after that date, and shipments could start arriving in Japan in mid-February, according to the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture. Bans remain on parts of cattle considered to carry a higher risk of transmitting the disease.
On August 17th, Argentina notified the WTO Secretariat of a request for consultations with the European Union on Spanish restrictions to its imports. Four days later, United States and Japan filed a separate dispute against Argentina on import control.
Argentina claims that a Spanish regulation implemented in April of 2012, in effect discriminates against biodiesel imports from Argentina. Whereas U.S. and Japan reported that Argentina has used a system of non-automatic import licensing to restrict and discriminate against imported goods.