Russia appeals WTO ruling on EU pork import ban
As was widely anticipated, Russia has appealed against the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s judgement that its ban on imports of EU pig meat products was against WTO rules. Appeals can take up to three months to complete. If the original judgement is upheld, Russia will have to remove the ban within a ‘reasonable period of time’ or face retaliatory measures.
The Russian import ban was imposed in early 2014, in response to outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Poland and the Baltic States. Although the disease has not spread beyond these countries, the Russian ban affected the whole EU. A number of other importers have restricted shipments from the infected countries but Russia is the only major buyer to have extended the ban to the rest of the EU. The ban covers not just fresh/frozen pork, which is further restricted by the wider political ban imposed later in 2014, but also other uncooked pig meat products, including offals and fats. The latter, in particular, had a significant impact on the EU pig market, due to the lack of alternative buyers. The value of EU fat exports fell by €237 million between 2013 and 2015, a loss of nearly one euro for every pig slaughtered.
In a separate development, the Polish parliament has reportedly approved a plan to cull up to 600,000 pigs in the regions affected by ASF. The aim is to reduce the density of pigs, many of them in small “backyard farms”, thereby slowing the spread of the disease. This is equivalent to around 3% of annual Polish pig slaughterings. Assuming it is implemented, the cull will contribute to the anticipated tightening of supplies in the country in the coming months; the June census already shows a 12% (1.4 million head) year-on-year fall in the size of the Polish pig herd.
Stephen Howarth, Market Specialist Manager
Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org, 024 7647 8856