The world trade organization (WTO) upheld the EU’s second trade dispute with Russia over a week. Panel of arbitrators at the WTO, to understand the legality of the Russian ban 2014 on the import of European pork, agreed that the ban is contrary to the Agreement on the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures of the WTO. The decision of the arbitrators published on Friday, August 19.
In January 2014, the Rosselkhoznadzor imposed a ban on the import of live pigs and pork products from all EU countries, citing the outbreak of African swine fever in Lithuania and Poland. In April 2014 the EU requested consultations with Russia on the issue of lifting the ban, and in June of the same year, asked the WTO to convene a panel of arbitrators to resolve the dispute. In the end, the arbitrators supported the EU on most of the points of the complaint. In particular, they came to the conclusion that the import ban on pork from all EU countries contravenes international standards of the world organization for animal health, and therefore, does not meet the obligation of Russia to “base their sanitary or phytosanitary measures on international standards” as spelled out in the Agreement on the application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures of the WTO.
The arbitrators also found to be unlawful, certain restrictions Russia on the supply of live pigs and pork from Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Estonia.
The verdict of the arbitration panel is a “serious signal to Russia and to all WTO members, regarding their obligations to comply with international standards,” the Commission said in a press release following the announcement. She noted that the supplies of European pork to Russia remain banned due to the Russian embargo imposed in August 2014 in response to Western sanctions.
African swine fever is an infectious disease of pigs, fatal to these animals, but harmless to humans. Vaccines against this virus does not exist. The European Commission protested against the fact that Russia has extended its ban on pork imports from the EU, in which there were no outbreaks of African swine fever. WTO arbitrators have agreed that the sanitary measures imposed by Russia, was not based on adequate assessment of risk to life and health of people or animals. “Today’s WTO ruling confirms that the measures taken by Russia against the EU, have little in common with the real sanitary risk or risks to health,” the Commission said.
Russia has 60 days to appeal the WTO ruling. The arbitrators dismissed part of the claims of the European Union, including accusations of ignoring economic factors and lack of transparency measures, noted in the press release of the Ministry of economic development of Russia, acknowledging that “in some cases, the panel found some discrepancies between the Russian measures with international standards”. “The feasibility of treatment in the WTO appellate body is very high. A decision will be made within the WTO procedure time — in the coming weeks”, — is spoken in the Ministry message.
A week earlier, the WTO issued its first decision against Russia in several trade disputes with the EU. Arbitrators have recognized that Russia overestimated tariffs on imports of European refrigerators, palm oil and paper, thereby violating WTO rules. In the WTO there are several disputes between the EU and Russia, including recycling fee in the Russian Federation for cars and anti-dumping duties on imports of light commercial vehicles (LCV) from the EU.
Before the Russian embargo, in 2013, pork exports from the EU to Russia amounted to €1.4 billion European Association of agricultural cooperatives Copa-Cogeca complained in may 2016, manufacturers are faced with the lowest prices on pork for 11 years, and urged the Commission to intensify efforts for the return of the European meat and vegetables to the Russian market. In August 2014 the Russian government introduced a food embargo that has enveloped and European pork. In late June, President Vladimir Putin extended the embargo until the end of 2017.