The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has finally reached its verdict on Russia’s early-2014 import ban on live pigs, fresh pork and other pig products from the EU, finding substantially in favour of the EU complaint.
Although detailed and qualified in content, and still subject to an appeal by the Russian authorities, the ruling concludes that, regarding the application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, the EU-wide ban and the EU member state bans were “inconsistent” with the WTO agreement on the application of SPS measures and were “significantly more trade restrictive than required to achieve Russia’s appropriate level of protection”.
Elsewhere in its judgement, WTO found that Russia’s measures had been “applied in a manner which constitutes a disguised restriction on international trade”.
The judgement (access link below) was promptly welcomed by the European Commission (EC) as sending a “strong signal to Russia, and all WTO Members, as regards their obligation to respect international standards”.
“The EU has one of the world’s most efficient animal health and food safety systems, including high detection levels and stringent risk management rules,” said the EC. “The (WTO) ruling confirms that the measures taken by Russia against the EU have little to do with any real sanitary or health risks. EU products are safe and there is thus no need for any country to maintain unjustified import restrictions.
“For most of the products dealt with in this case, trade continues to be restricted by a politically motivated ban imposed on EU agri-food products by Russia in August 2014. Nevertheless, the panel’s findings are of systemic importance, since they remind Russia about its international obligations and the fact that these cannot be arbitrarily ignored.”
The EC also said that the EU will continue to use WTO procedures to ensure that international trade rules are effectively respected.
The WTO panel report can be appealed within 60 days. If no appeal is filed within that deadline, the report will be adopted and Russia will be bound to comply with the recommendation.