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Russian pork import ban challenged by EU

SNP MEP Alyn Smith today (Wednesday) welcomed the EU's decision to launch a case against Russia in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), after Russia imposed a ban on imports of pigs, fresh pork, and a number of pork products from the EU.

The ban, which came into force at the end of January this year, is having a significant impact on pork farming in the EU, with Russia accounting for almost 25% of EU pork exports. The ban was imposed after four cases of African swine fever were detected in wild boar at Europe's external borders with Belarus (at Lithuania and Poland).  

Commenting, two term MEP and full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee, Smith said:

"It's disappointing that weeks of discussions between the EU and Russia have found no solution, and that the EU has therefore been forced to resort to this measure.

"Russia's ban represents a clear violation of WTO rules. Russia has reported over 600 cases of African swine fever domestically since 2007 and has at no point decided to close its entire market to domestic pork products. Moreover, there have been suggestions that the disease may actually have spread to Europe from Russia, via Belarus.

"The Russian response is completely disproportionate, given that this was a minor case at the border of Belarus, which was easily contained by the relevant European authorities. Russia's refusal to accept pork imports from vast areas entirely unaffected by the disease is an outrageous case of double standards, which is having a major impact on the European pig industry.

"Russia's behaviour raises questions as to whether it actually plans to live up to its WTO commitments and also plays into wider questions that have come into focus recently regarding Russia's attitude to international law more broadly.

"On this basis, referring the case to the WTO was the only viable option and I hope the matter can be resolved swiftly for the good of the European pig industry."