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Ask the Ambassador: H1N1 Virus and Trade

Welcome to the Ask the Ambassador portion of our blog. We have received many questions and comments from not just across the United States, but also from different regions of the world. This blog will feature questions that express common themes running throughout the questions we receive.

We continue to receive many questions relating to the H1N1 virus and how this is affecting trade around the world. Michael, from Indiana, inquired specifically about pork producers. He asks:

"What can producers do to encourage the lifting of the Pork bans from China and Russia? It is costing pork producers several million dollars a day. This group has already incurred 19 months of operating losses--with more to come. Any help or thoughts on producer action would be appreciated!"

Ambassador Kirk responds:

"Michael, producers should continue to work with their industry associations and government representatives to encourage their trading partners to base their decisions on science. The science shows that the H1N1 virus cannot be spread by eating pork and that American pork is safe to eat. Along with the National Pork industry, we have been working hard to communicate that message to all of our trading partners to convince them to eliminate their bans on U.S. pork products.

"I am working to resolve the matter directly, and encourage industry to remain in close communication with USTR. We have been working closely with other government agencies, including the USDA, the Department of Commerce, HHS, and the CDC to understand the H1N1 concerns expressed by our trading partners and to ensure that they have the facts about the virus and how it is spread. In many instances, we have provided scientific information to these countries about the safe consumption of pork products in an effort to convince them to remove their unjustified restrictions. As a result of the widespread U.S. industry-government cooperation, 16 countries have removed their H1N1 related bans on U.S. pork. Last month, Russia lifted all restrictions against all states but Florida."

Thank you for continuing our dialogue on trade. Please keep submitting your questions and comments for the Ambassador.