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Russia WTO ban ruling could take two years to implement

27th Feb 2017 / By Alistair Driver

It could take two years before EU pig producers gain any real benefit from last week’s WTO ruling against Russia’s pigmeat ban, according to EU farm leaders.

wto russiaThe  ruling concerns a ban imposed by Russia in 2014 because of the outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in areas in the EU close to the border with Belarus. 

In August 2016 a WTO panel acknowledged that the Russian measures are not based on the relevant international standards and violate WTO rules. The new ruling confirms this finding.

The ruling does not affect the wider Russian ban on EU farm products imposed, also in 2014, in retaliation for EU sanctions related to Russia's actions in Ukraine. 

The ASF ban affects mainly the trade of EU fats and lard to the Russian Federation.

Nonetheless, EU farm representative body Copa and Cogeca welcomed the ruling, which it said 'sends a strong signal to all WTO Members that they must respect international standards'. 

“The next step of the process is implementation of the ruling in a ‘reasonable period of time’, which can take up to 15 months,” it said.

“Farmers could therefore not see any benefit from this decision until a couple of years, unless an agreement is reached before then."

“We have supported the European Commission’s efforts to find a technical agreement with the Russian authorities on the EU’s export certificates and veterinary restrictions in order to allow a resumption in trade of EU fats and lard to the Russian Federation.

“In that context, we urge the EU to keep up its efforts to re-open a market that used to take a quarter of our pork exports.”

European Commission response

The European Commission said the ruling 'reconfirms that the measures taken by Russia against the EU have little to do with any real sanitary or health risks'.

"EU products from disease-free areas are safe and there is thus no need for any country to maintain unjustified import restrictions.

"Russia should withdraw its unjustified measures and allow EU companies to resume normal business with their Russian partners.

"The EU will continue to use WTO procedures to ensure that international trade rules are effectively respected. WTO dispute settlement remains the strongest option to tackle significant trade barriers and to thus increase legal certainty and predictability for our companies."

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