After a meeting with EU farm ministers and the Dutch presidency in Brussels on Wednesday 18 May, Copa’s vice-president Henri Brichard said the low price of pork in Europe was “unacceptable”.
Brichard said Copa-Cogeca welcomed the empathy EU politicians had demonstrated in recognising the “critical situation” facing EU farmers, especially those in the meat industry. But with pork prices lower today than they were 11 years ago, the vice-president has called for action to restore pig meat trade with Russia.
Copa-Cogeca has repeatedly called on the EC to resolve the Russian pork embargo and a spokesperson for the farming body yesterday (19 May) suggested European officials were “not doing enough”.
Roadmap to resolution
The spokesperson said Copa-Cogeca “hadn’t heard much” from the EC on its progress with Russia but said the farming body would continue to call for action to alleviate the pressure on the pork industry.
Copa-Cogeca has requested a road map from the EC on how to go about reopening the market. A key objective to securing a resolution is to get the Kremlin to drop its sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures imposed on EU pork in 2014.
This has been central to a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute between the EU and Russia and the latter claims the ban is inconsistent with WTO fair trade policy. Copa-Cogeca’s spokesperson also said Russia’s safety measures were imposed for “political reasons”, not for genuine fears over African swine fever spreading to Russia – the Kremlin’s defence for the pork embargo.
Russia remains important
Recently, Russia has pressed forward with a plan to become self-suffiencet in meat production. This calls into question whether it is in Europe’s best interest to focus on resuming pork trade here.
“With regards to restoring trade relationships with Russia, while alternative markets have been found for fresh and frozen pork and certain cuts, there still remains an oversupply of pig fat and lard, which was predominantly exported to Russia,” said UK levy board AHDB Pork analyst Vikki Campbell.
“Therefore, it is still within the EU’s interest to continue negotiations with Russia to reopen the pig fat and lard market for EU member states into Russia, as currently this is being marketed to the less lucrative industrial markets such as pet food.”
Separately, Copa's vice-president Brichard used his meeting with EU farm ministers to ensure emergency aid funds, agreed in September 2015, are paid out in full to farmers. Brichard also questioned whether new animal welfare requirements, enshrined in the Animal Welfare bill, were consistent with free trade talks with trade bloc Mercosur and over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal with the US.