28 May 1999

Russian aid returns

FOOD aid to Russia is back on track following the European Commissions recent announcement that it has approved the shipment of 40,000t of pork to Russia.

The pork will be bought on the EU free market. The deadline for tenders is Jun 7. It is the second tranche of the 100,000t earmarked for the scheme and follows Januarys shipment of 30,000t.

The move marks the end of a lengthy delay in the k400m (£264m) food aid package, caused by a series of disagreements including pricing of the goods in Russia. Proceeds from sales will be transferred into a fund to finance overdue state pensions.

A third tranche of grain has also been released, including 160,000t of French and Danish wheat. The sourcing of 40,000t of beef from national intervention stocks, a quarter of which will come from Ireland, has also been approved.

"Its a step in the right direction," says the Meat and Livestock Commissions Mick Sloyan of the pork tenders. "It is taking meat off the market. And it means a respectable volume of exports without having to worry about letters of credit or getting paid." &#42