Russia suspends pork imports from the EU

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Russia suspends EU pork imports
Russia suspends EU pork imports

Related tags Pork Eu European union Russia

As of 30 January, Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor has stopped pork imports from the European Union (EU) following the discovery last week in Lithuania of the bodies of two wild boars, which had died from African swine fever (ASF).

Rosselkhoznadzor also claimed it had information from unofficial sources that a second outbreak of ASF had been registered in Lithuania, with the death of 11 wild boars. In addition, according to unofficial data, first outbreaks of the disease had already been registered in Poland, said the organisation.

“The EU has not confirmed this information. But we have reason to trust our sources,”​ said Rosselkhoznadzor spokesperson Julia Trofimova.

“Given the outbreaks of ASF in the EU, it is not possible for the EU to issue veterinary certificates for pork and pork products offered for delivery to Russia. In other words, under the existing agreements, the EU should suspend the issuance of certificates and, in turn, Rosselkhoznadzor has no right to allow pork and pork product imports from the EU,”​ Trofimova added.

However, Russia has not imposed an official ban on pork imports from Europe.

“At the same time, we cannot say that Russia is imposing a ban on the supply of these products,”​ explained Trofimova. “According to the bilateral agreements, the EU should stop certification, thus prohibiting delivery of pork products. And cargoes [containing pork] which arrive at the borders of the Russian Federation from the EU, will have to be sent back, so as not to let potentially dangerous products enter Russian territory.”

Economic loss for both sides

Restrictions can last for at least three years, since, according to the memorandum of 2006, products supplied from the EU to the countries of the Customs Union, must be made in a region free of ASF for the past three years.

To work around the problem, Rosselkhoznadzor has proposed the EU holds a regional study to identify areas clean from ASF, which should be approved at the Office International des Epizooties. “Then we can sort out resumption of supplies,”​ added Rosselkhoznadzor.

According to Russian analysts, it is not just EU producers, who will face losses from these restrictions.

“As of the end of 2013, Europe was a major supplier of pork to Russia. In the past year the EU has supplied Russia with around 55% (338,000t) of all imported pork, including 96% of all pork fat (253,000t) and 96% of all offal (95,000t),”​ said Sergei Chernysov, an expert from Russian analytical agency EMEAT.

“It is noteworthy that the restriction can last for at least three years. If this happens, the Russian pork market will experience a serious shortage, which will surely provoke a rise in prices. We should also note that the category of swine fat, produced in Russia in very small quantities, is one of the main components used in meat processing. So Russian meat processors may face a serious shortage of raw materials,”​ he added.

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