The agreement was reached between the head of Rosselkhoznadzor, Sergei Dankvert, and acting head of the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety of European Commission (EC) Ladislav Miko at the international exhibition ‘Green Week’ in Berlin, Russian officials have reported.
Russia imposed veterinary restrictions on EU countries at the beginning of 2014, banning all pork exports, following a series of outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) in the Baltic States and Poland.
"We are starting to create a schedule of inspections for [meat production] companies in France, Hungary, Italy, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, which, following the abolition of the food embargo and ASF-related veterinary restrictions, will resume exports to Russia first," said Dankvert.
According to him, only the producers of pork with fourth compartment, or the highest level of biological protection, will be allowed to supply meat products to Russia.
At the same time, as explained by Alexei Alekseenko, a spokesperson for Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia is not ready to lift the ban on agricultural production and food from the EU and, in fact, such a decision is now in power of Russian veterinary body. He stated that, at Green Week, EC representatives asked Russian vets to cancel the restrictions on meat that were not in the "sanction list".
Pork products that do not fall within the scope of the embargo include pork fat, lard and offal.
Rosselkhoznadzor said that if the European Commission were to demand that Russia open its market for all European pork producers, "there would be no such opening even for these six countries".
"We cannot consider the markets of the European Union as one single market, and thus open the supply of pork and pork products to Russia [for all pork producers of the EU]. It is not possible due to the active and large-scale spread of ASF in the EU. With such an action [insisting on opening of Russian market for all countries], the EC would not only not be able to achieve its goal, but would also damage plans to open the market for the six named countries," stated the press service of Rosselkhoznadzor.
However, Russian industry experts consider that the partial lifting of trade restrictions was a necessary step on the part of the Russian authorities. "With the announced step the embargo will not be removed – only restrictions on the supply of meat and, in the first instance, pork products that are used in Russia’s processing industry. Without this measure, many of them could go broke this year, as they have not found alternative suppliers of such products since the ban was introduced at the beginning of last year," said Russian agricultural analyst Eugene Gerden.
According to the European Livestock and Meat Trades Union (UECBV), in 2013 the EU exported around 251,000 tonnes (t) of pork fat and lard, and 96,500t of edible pork offal to Russia, which amounted to 46.7% of the total EU exports to the country for the pork sector. The value of EU these particular exports was estimated to be worth €395 million.