EU Launches WTO Action Against Russia Over Pork Ban
The European Union launched a case on Tuesday in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against a Russian ban on imports of pigs and pork from the EU.
Pork imports have been blocked by Russia since January, based on four cases of African swine fever detected in wild boar at the Lithuanian and Polish borders with Belarus. According to the European Commission, quoted by European Voice, this has cut off almost 25% of all EU exports.
Karel de Gucht, the European commissioner for trade, said that the EU had to resort to the WTO because bilateral talks to resolve the issue have failed. “Russia's blanket ban on European pork is clearly disproportionate and goes against WTO rules,” he said. “This was a very minor case of a few infected wild boars at the borders with Belarus which was immediately contained by the relevant European authorities.
Under WTO rules, member countries can only impose import bans if they can be justified on the basis of sound science and are applied without discrimination.
The Commission pointed out on 8 April that Russia is still accepting pork imports from Belarus even though there have been several notified cases of African swine fever there. There have also been reported cases in Russia.
Also, despite the numerous outbreaks of the disease that have occurred on its own territory, Russia did not close its entire market to all domestic products. Therefore, by refusing imports from EU regions unaffected by the disease, Russia would seem to be applying double standards, treating EU products differently from other trading partners and from those produced domestically.
The ban has resulted in a severe decrease of price for European pork and an oversupply on the EU market. Russia is the EU's third largest trading partner and the EU is Russia's biggest export market.