Canada foils Russian black market for pirated pork

Tue Jun 24, 2008 2:21pm EDT
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By Roberta Rampton

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canada has come up with a "fool-proof" certificate to prevent Russian black marketeers from passing off other foreign pork as Canadian, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said on Tuesday.

Canada's relatively simple export certificate was being "pirated" last year, which led to a two-month ban on Canadian pork imports, Ritz told reporters during a conference call from a trade mission in Moscow.

"They do have some situations over here where there is a black market, and our certificates were being photocopied and used on other products," Ritz said.

"We worked with them over the winter to come up with a certificate that was impenetrable."

Russia was Canada's third-largest pork export market in 1997 after the United States and Japan, accounting for 89,000 tonnes worth C$145 million ($142 million).

The problem came to light when Russian import officials noticed an influx of so-called Canadian pork exports into eastern border points, and checked certificates with Canadian officials, said Nathan Hunt, a pork importer with Ronald A. Chisholm Ltd in Moscow.

"It was fairly extensive," Hunt said in an interview.

Ritz said Canadian exporters signed C$10 million in new pork and beef business to Russia during the trade mission.   Continued...