The EU requested the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva to rule over a dispute concerning the Russian ban on imports of pigs and their genetic material, fresh pork and certain other pig products from the EU, purportedly because of a limited number of cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) in certain areas of Lithuania and Poland, close to the border with Belarus.
The EU believes that the Russian import restrictions are incompatible with the WTO, notably with the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures (SPS Agreement) and the GATT 1994. At the EU’s request, and as part of the initial stages of the dispute, consultations were held on 30 April and 1 May 2014 between Russia and the EU. However, their outcome did not lead to a lifting of the measures or any proper justification for them to be maintained. Unfortunately, subsequent bilateral discussions also did not bring any progress.
The EU’s request for the establishment of a WTO panel will presumably be discussed for the first time at a special meeting of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on 10 July 2014. At that meeting Russia can object to the establishment of the panel, under the dispute settlement rules of the WTO. If the EU tables the issue again at the following DSB meeting on 22 July 2014, Russia would not be able to object and, consequently, the panel would be established.
This trade ban has exposed the EU farming sector to significant losses. In 2013, i.e. in the year preceding the Russian restrictions, the value of EU pork exports to Russia reached €1.4 billion, which was around 25% of the whole EU exports.
"The Russian import restrictions on pig meat from the EU have already had a severe impact on the EU pig sector, requiring crisis assistance measures. During the 5 months the ban has now been in place, European pig meat producers have lost exports worth some €580 million," said EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloş.
Monday June 30, 2014/ EC/ European Union.