With Russia having reached an agreement with the European Union and being engaged in ongoing discussions with the United States, its long-awaited accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) seems more likely than ever. In fact, most observers expect this process to be completed near the end of next year, or in early 2012.

So how would WTO membership for Russia impact the United States’ ability to export pork and beef to this important market?

Thad Lively, senior vice president for trade access for the U.S. Meat Export Federation, shares his thoughts on this issue in the attached USMEF audio report. Lively says Russia’s accession to the WTO should improve the overall trade relationship between the two countries and reduce some trade barriers for U.S. pork and beef. It is too early to tell, however, if this would eliminate longstanding obstacles such as Russia’s tariff rate quota system, which imposes significant tariffs on meat imports that exceed a set volume in a calendar year.