An end to the Russian pork ban remains unlikely

Suggestions that the Russians may be about to do a U-turn on its ban on imports of pork from EU member states should be treated with care, writes Pig World editor Graeme Kirk.

One meat industry website is reporting that the European Livestock and Meat Trades Union (UECBV) claims a meeting between the European Commission services in charge of veterinary, sanitary and phytosanitary issues and their Russian counterparts in Berlin, Germany, on January 15, produced positive outcomes, which, according to preliminary information, should allow the resumption of the EU export of some products from the pork sector to Russia.

While there may be a small hope of resuming exports of pork offal and fat, products not originally covered by the ASF ban, hopes of anyhting more would be at odds with the outcome of a round table meeting the head of Russia’s veterinary watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, Sergey Dankvert (pictured), held with the chief vets and meat industry representatives from Italy, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark and Lithuania earlier in the week.

A report published on the Rosselkhoznadzor website last week said Mr Dankvert told the meeting, which has become established as a side event to Berlin’s Green Week, that ASF spread situation in four EU countries and failure of the EC to take adequate measures had resulted in serious economic losses in the EU, and that the issue still couldn’t to be solved in the short term.Rosselkhoznadzor forecasts concerning how the ASF situation would develop had proved far more accurate than the EU had predicted, he added, and the Russian organisation was still sure that wild boar depopulation was necessary as this was main source of the virus spread.

Mr Dankvert went on: “In case Russia removes [its]retaliatory economic restrictive measures, pork export from the EU will be possible after a new form of veterinary certificate is agreed upon. This new form will enable performing scientifically grounded ASF regionalisation and compartmentalisation of pork producing establishments.

“Such European countries as Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia are still in high risk. Rosselkhoznadzor considers that agreeing upon a new veterinary certificate is the only possible way to solve the ASF situation in the EU as challenging Russia in the WTO court can result in long court proceedings.”

Mr Dankvert’s comments are no longer included in the latest version of the story on the Rosselkhoznadzor website, but it shows that even without the import ban on Nato countries imposed following Russia’s incursions into Ukraine, the country’s position on ASF and the current EU veterinary certificate has barely moved in a year.

And although further negiotiations between Russian veterinary officials and their counterparts from Belgium, Denmark and France (which incidentally announced at the meeting that it was making Russia’s chief vet, Yevgeny Nepoklonov, an honorary member of the French Veterinary Academy) discussed bilateral trade in pork – for example the Dutch chief vet, Christianne Bruschke, made it clear the Netherlands would be keen to resume pork shipments to the Customs Union according to a bilateral agreement – the current EU-wide pork veterinary certificate would make such a deal illegal.

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