(Senate - March 28, 1996)

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[Page S3144]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                       THE RUSSIAN POULTRY MARKET

  Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I have two comments I would like to make. I 
first would like to respond very briefly to a speech earlier in the day 
made by one of my colleagues before I discuss the foreign relations 
authorization bill pending before the Senate. I would like to address 
briefly the earlier comments of my good friend, the distinguished 
Senator from Arizona, regarding the President's involvement in 
resolving our trade impasse with Russia. The distinguished Senator 
suggests that it was inappropriate for the President to impress upon 
Mr. Yeltsin that the poultry industry is important to Mr. Clinton's 
home State, as well as to many other parts of America; I must say 
forthrightly, the single most important industry in my State.
  Since Russia announced over a month ago that it was banning the 
import of all American poultry, I have been in daily contact with the 
White House, our Trade Ambassador Mickey Kantor, and our Agriculture 
Secretary Dan Glickman, to keep this $500 million market open to 
American poultry growers.
  Fortunately, the hard work of the administration has paid off. Just 
this week the Russians announced that they are backing down. This would 
not, in my view, have been possible without the direct involvement of 
the President, the Vice President, Ambassador Kantor and Secretary 
  Since 1982, Sussex County, one of our counties in Delaware, has 
remained the No. 1 broiler-producing county in the United States of 
America. The Delmarva peninsula is home to 21,000 poultry workers, and 
produces more than 600 million birds per year. It is a major supplier 
of the Russian poultry market.
  Last year, for example, one major Delaware producer exported 1,300 
tons of frozen poultry to Russia. Another exported $10 million worth of 
poultry products.
  Those of us who understand this industry know that it is under 
increasing competitive pressure as grain prices soar and the price of 
other meats fall. But, they know how to prosper in a competitive 
environment. That is why we can ship higher quality poultry to Moscow 
and Saint Petersburg and still beat their prices. In turn, it is the 
responsibility of this and, I believe, every administration to maintain 
the open international markets that they need, not only for American 
poultry but for all American products. Keep in mind that Russia's 
market was closed as recently as 1991. Now, Russia purchases $500 
million worth of poultry every year, and the market has been growing. 
This is just one of the many products they purchase.
  This has been a real success story for American exports. Of American 
exports, the agricultural community is the only real success story in 
American exports of continuing, year-in-and-year-out consequence.
  I, for one, think it is perfectly appropriate, as a matter of fact 
absolutely necessary, for the President of the United States, in this 
case President Clinton, to let President Yeltsin know just how 
important these exports are. I cannot think of any better way for a 
President to drive the point home than to make this issue personal.
  I wanted very much for the President to successfully resolve this 
problem of the poultry industry. As any negotiator on the floor of this 
Senate understands, the one way in which, on a close call, we all 
appeal to our colleagues ultimately is we say: This is personal to me. 
This is personal to me.
  Mr. Yeltsin is a politician. Every world leader is a politician. 
Politicians in international relations react no differently than 
politicians on the Senate floor.
  I think it was perfectly appropriate and necessary for the President 
to use everything in his arsenal to convince the Russians not to 
violate international trade agreements with regard to poultry or 
anything else.
  Mr. President, I believe that the people who disagree with the 
President acknowledge he is a master communicator. You can bet Yeltsin 
got the message.
  So let us keep the big picture in mind and not get hung up on 
questions of style. The results, which are keeping 500 million dollars' 
worth of export markets open, speak for themselves. I think this is an 
important achievement on President Clinton's part and an important 
international trade issue. Had he failed, it would have set the 
precedent for significant trade consequences for the United States, and 
not just in poultry. I think most Americans, regardless of political 
party, feel the President did the right thing. I know I think he did 
the right thing.