UFU welcomes call for Russian pork ban to be lifted

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The World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling confirming that the Russian ban on pork exports breaks global trading rules is welcome news for local pig producers, according to UFU Pork and Bacon Chairman, Norman Robson.

“We are pleased the WTO has ruled the ban on EU pork products and live pigs illegal. We are now echoing calls by our EU counterparts for the ban to be lifted,” said Mr Robson.

He added that before Russia imposed these restrictions it accounted for just under a quarter of European pork exports. This was worth €1.4 billion a year.

While this announcement is being seen as a positive step Mr Robson warned local producers not to be over-optimistic about the impact.

“The Russian authorities now have 60 days to decide if they wish to appeal the WTO ruling. Should they decide to do this, it will hit hopes that farmers will see speedy benefits from the ruling on this restrictive trade barrier,” he said.

Mr Robson said that the as part of COPA COGECA, the umbrella body for farm lobby organisations and cooperatives, the UFU would continue to press for measures that would see a reopening of EU pork trade to Russia.

Copa & Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said: “We welcome the fact that the WTO has confirmed that the Russian import ban on live pigs, fresh pork and other pig products from the whole of the EU is illegal in light of international trade rules. Since only a limited number of cases of African Swine Fever have emerged in areas close to the border with Belarus, the Panel acknowledged that the ban is disproportionate, protectionist and not based on international standards and violates rules of the WTO Agreement on Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. This is good news.

“But unfortunately the Russian authorities are likely to appeal against the ruling in the next 60 days which means that farmers may not see the benefits of it before 2018.

“The EU pork market remains meanwhile in a fragile state. Copa and Cogeca have supported the European Commission efforts to find an 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 Russia. We urge the EU to keep up its efforts to re-open a market that used to take a quarter of our pork exports,” Pesonen said.