Russia refuses to reinstate meat imports from Baltics

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Baltic countries are sitll unable to export meat to Russia
Baltic countries are sitll unable to export meat to Russia

Related tags Latvia Customs union Livestock Pork

Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor has once again denied a request from the Baltic States to restore meat exports to the Customs Union.

The heads of the service have claimed that there is currently no reason to negotiate any lifting of the ban on the import of live pigs to Russia and the Customs Union from these countries.

According to the head of Rosselkhoznadzor Sergey Dankvert, preliminary results from inspections in Lithuanian meat production facilities, carried out from 19-25 May suggest there were several violations of Russia’s veterinary rules.

“Our audit has not removed a lot of the problems from the Lithuanian side,”​ Dankvert said.

Dankvert added that Rosselkhoznadzor believed the Baltic States had sent meat products to Russia which were produced using raw materials from countries forbidden to export to Russia.

“During the inspection it was found that when we banned the supply of live pigs from Latvia and Estonia, these animals were moved to Lithuania and, at some point, processed and exported to Russia."

Severe economic consequences

Over the past two years, the Baltic States have repeatedly tried to lift the ban on the export of meat products and live pigs to Russia. They argue that the ban is having a serious impact on their economies, due to the importance of the Customs Union market to meat exporters.

For example, in 2011, Latvia exported 16,300 tonnes of live pigs worth a total of LAT14m (US$28m). In total, the country produces 21.6 million tonnes of pigs in live weight per year, so exports to Russia accounted for about 77% of the Latvian market. The situation is similar in Estonia and Lithuania.

“When we lost three-quarters of the market’s sales, it obviously hurt all the businesses here,”​ said Yurges Mortales, a Lithuanian farmer. “We have redirected some supplies to Germany and Poland, but since 2011, we have been working with negative margins. Farmers took up a lot of credits and debts, and we pray that the Customs Union will re-open its borders to our pork.”

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