WTO sets deadline to resolve Russia’s EU pork ban
The WTO’s Appellate Body, which is responsible for settling international trade disputes, sent a communiqué to WTO members confirming a final report on the issue will be published no later than 23 February 2017.
In the brief message, dated 16 December 2016 but sent on 10 January 2017, WTO officials confirmed the delayed report was nearly ready.
“We can now inform you that we expect to circulate the Appellate Body report in this appeal no later than 23 February 2017,” an unnamed WTO official said.
Flouted trade laws
The original report was initially supposed to come out two months ago, but on 21 November, officials from the WTO Appellate Body said it would not be able to circulate its report within the 90-day timeframe of the initial verdict.
In August 2016, the WTO ruled that Russia had flouted international trade laws by imposing a blanket ban on imports of EU pork and pork products in 2014.
The initial report recommended Russia change its stance of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and consider lifting its long-running ban on EU pork products.
In late September, the Russian government – as it was widely expected to do – launched an appeal against the WTO ruling and aimed a shot at the ruling, which it called “purely political”.
Russia’s trade ban had a massive impact on Europe’s pork industry, causing prices to fall dramatically and hurting even the biggest pork processors, such as Danish Crown.
When Russia arbitrarily closed its market to all EU pork exports following a small African swine fever (ASF) outbreak close to its border in Belarus, Europe’s pork sector lost a market worth €1.4bn annually.
This led to a more than a year of intense pressure in the market, where prices fell to the lowest level in over eight years.
The loss of Russia has now been more or less absorbed by China, which has been importing record volumes of EU pork – and shows no signs of slowing down in the short-term.