No end to Russian ASF ban in sight

There’s still no sign that the Russian ban on imports of pig meat from the EU will be lifted in the near future.

BPEX reports in this wek’s Pig Market Weekly that it’s now more than two months since the restrictions were imposed, following the discovery of the first cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the EU mainland.

The cases meant that the existing veterinary certificate, which states that the EU is free of ASF (with the exception of Sardinia), was no longer valid. Negotiations have so far failed to reach agreement on a new certificate.

Reports suggest that Russia is prepared to accept imports from countries considered to be at low risk of introduction of ASF, such as the Netherlands, Denmark and France. However, it wants to exclude product from other member states, an approach that the European Commission (EC) has refused to agree to.

Last week the EU filed a complaint against Russia at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), citing inconsistencies in the Russian response to the EU cases and those in Belarus, which continues to supply pork products to Russia, and Ukraine, which was able to do so until recently.

The EU and Russia now have 60 days to consult before, if they fail to find a solution, the WTO will set up a panel to rule on the legality of Russia’s measures.

Although the Russian ban initially led to a sharp fall in pig prices in the EU, they have now largely recovered the lost ground, due to better EU consumer demand and strong orders from Asian markets.

Nevertheless, prices undoubtedly remain below where they would have been without the ban.

The Russian market has also been affected, with reports of sharp price rises and product shortages. According to latest trade figures, Russian pork imports in February were down nearly 30% year on year, with higher supplies from Canada (up 83%) and Brazil (up 28%) only partly offsetting the loss of EU product.

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