A statement released by Alexey Likhachev, Russia’s first deputy minister of economic development, said: “This issue will be considered by the government after the necessary consultations with the experts. I think that we will be ready for such a step by the end of September after the end of holiday season in the country.”
Sergey Dankvert, head of the Russian Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Monitoring Service (Rosselkhoznadzor), added that there would be clear grounds for appeal, suggesting the original panel decision was “purely political”. He said: “We go our own way and do not have any worries regarding the latest WTO decision.”
Rosselkhoznadzor officials told GlobalMeatNews they predicted that African swine fever could spread westwards and southwards from Poland and the Baltic States over the next two years and become widespread in Europe. They argued that EU controls on the disease, as backed by the WTO, would actually help the disease move around Europe.
An official spokesman for Alexander Tkachev, Russia’s agriculture minister, said Russia’s swine fever-related import ban was “fully justified”, while the EU’s African swine fever situation remained “very complex”. With outbreaks continuing in Poland and the Baltic States, further supplies from such countries could pose a threat to the entire Russian pig industry, he argued.
A European Commission official would not comment on the appeal plan, other than to say that Russia has 60 days to lodge its appeal following the WTO panel ruling, which was made on 19 August. According to WTO rules, the EU would not be able to block or delay an appeal, and Russia does not have to wait for a meeting of the WTO disputes settlement body to act – it only has to file an appeal with the WTO secretariat to get the ball rolling. Usually, appeals are decided quickly (in WTO terms), within 60 days, and 90 days in extreme cases. However, Geneva diplomats told GlobalMeatNews that the WTO’s appellate body is currently operating with only five judges – two fewer than normal – and appointments were being held up. So there is a risk that Russia’s appeal might drag on longer than 90 days.