A specific date in April has not been disclosed yet, but it will nonetheless come as good news to the pork industry, which continues to struggle with low prices as production outstrips demand.
Russia closed off its market to live pigs, pork and other related products from the EU in January 2014 – cutting off almost 25% of all EU imports in this sector, according to EU data.
The trade ban has been a long-running issue in the European meat industry with the European Commission describing it as “clearly disproportionate, discriminatory and not based on science”.
The year before Russia slammed an embargo down, the value of EU pork exports to Russia reached €1.4bn ($1.55bn). But since the ban in 2014, there have been numerous diplomatic attempts to address the restriction.
EU farming body Copa-Cogeca has been at the forefront of attempts to encourage the European Commission (EC) to open trade talks with Russia again.
In a letter sent to EC president Jean-Claude Juncker on 20 January 2016, Copa president Martin Merrild and Cogeca president Thomas Magnusson called on Juncker to “re-establish trade in pigmeat and pig products as soon as possible”.
Why did Russia ban pork?
Russia closed its market to EU pork in January 2014. Its decision is based on four cases of African swine fever (ASF) detected in wild boars at the Lithuanian and Polish borders with Belarus. Despite only Eastern Europe being hit by ASF, Russia has refused to accept safe imports from non-affected areas, with the EU claiming the ban is not based on scientific evidence.
“This matter is of great importance because it would enable trade in several products, such as fat and lard, for which the EU pig sector has been unable to find equivalent alternative markets,” Merrild and Magnusson said in the letter.
“We believe this would be the best outcome for Russian consumers and the EU farming community, and provides a cost-effective solution for the EU budget.”
Since Juncker received the letter, it is believed the European Commission sent a letter of its own on to Russian politicians asking them to lift the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) restrictions.
Russia, apparently, has stonewalled attempts to engage in dialogue with Europe on resuming pork trade.
“As for the Russians, we have seen no movement from the Russian side to ease the restrictions,” said Copa-Cogeca press officer Amanda Cheesley on Tuesday 16 February.
On 30 June 2014, the EU confirmed the WTO would make a ruling on Russia’s pork import restrictions, but a decision was not expected so quickly.