Russian authorities will most likely challenge the World Trade Organization’s decision on the country’s import ban on live pigs, fresh pork and other pig products.
According to the Russians, the WTO decision is politically motivated. That can be concluded on the basis of statements by top Russian officials last week.
Challenging the WTO decision
Alexey Ulyukaev, Russia’s minister of economic development, stated that government officials and experts are studying the WTO panel’s decision, claiming that most likely Russia will decide to challenge it. This will not be decided until mid-September due to holidays.
Speaking at a press conference, he admitted that the Russian government will most likely be ready for an appeal.
African Swine Fever in Poland and Baltics
Russia imposed the ban after several cases of African Swine Fever in Poland and the Baltic States in 2014. The country invoked sanitary and phytosanitary measures, which are allowed under WTO rules.
On 19 August, a WTO panel found that Russia did not meet international standards for such a ban, violating WTO rules.
Criticism by Rosselkhoznadzor
The WTO ruling was also criticised by Sergei Dankvert, head of Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselhoznadzor. He claimed that it has nothing to do with veterinary rules, but has a clear political background.
Speaking at a different press conference in Moscow, Dankvert said that he had no doubts that the European Union (EU) would win this case, saying that it is part of the geopolitical pressure western countries are applying against Russia.
Dankvert said that the situation with African Swine Fever (ASF) in the EU was the reason of restrictions in early 2014, a situation which in his view is becoming increasingly dangerous. He predicted that the problem of ASF in the Baltics and Poland may become widespread in all of Europe soon enough.
Negotiating directly with Russia
Dankvert suggested that for the European Union it would be better to negotiate directly with Russia on this issue. He said that, for several years Rosselhoznadzor has been offering a zonal approach with the identification of particular countries and areas that are safe for ASF.
He indicated that with the introduction of such an approach Rosselhoznadzor will lift general restrictions on imports of pigs and pork production from EU, allowing supplies from safe countries under the guarantees of local veterinary services.