An EU appeal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the Russian ban on pork imports might well prove to be counterproductive, Russian media write.
Pork from the EU is not allowed to be imported into Russia due to occasional outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. These outbreaks have been confirmed only in wild boars in the border areas with Russia. Nevertheless, all pig and pork imports from the EU are closed, costing the EU millions of euros. Since extensive talks proved fruitless, the EU now intends to seek advice at a WTO court.
According to Rossiyskaya Gazeta, one of Russia's largest newspapers, the appeal may lead to the ban continuing to be in place for about five years. The newspaper spoke to representatives of the Ministry of Economic Development as well to experts in the swine industry.
Earlier, the Russians offered compartmentalisation as a solution, but the EU does not wish to resume exports from only a part of its territory whilst others are denied access. The newspaper concludes that many in Russia see this rejection of direct negotiations as a mistake.
Sergei Lapin, an international trade expert, said, "To defend its position, Russia will now try to refute all the claims as maximum as possible. It will be necessary for the country to prove that no other alternative measures were available at the moment of the Russian ban."
Under WTO rules, Russia could only once reject the creation of judicial panels, when the EU will raise the issue meeting of the WTO court on July 10. Subsequently, the WTO will create a panel of three independent arbitrators, they will have six months to make a decision, the results of which can be challenged on appeal. The entire process could approximately take a year.
In addition, Russia has many more tools available and extend the process at the WTO court. Lapin said that if Russia would use all, the ban could last for another four to five years.
It is estimated that the trade restrictions have so far cost European pork exporters €580 million. Russia normally buys a quarter of the EU's annual pork exports.