Russia’s food safety agency said the European Union turned down requests to allow pork purchases from some of the bloc’s countries that are unaffected by an outbreak of African swine fever.
Italy, France, Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands are ready to provide bilateral pork-safety guarantees that would allow trade with those countries to resume, Russia’s Rosselkhoznadzor agency said in a statement yesterday. Russia blocked imports of EU pork in January after the fatal pig disease was discovered in wild boars in Lithuania and Poland, spurring the EU to file a case with the World Trade Organization last month. Russia is historically the largest buyer of EU pork.
“All this delays a solution for resuming pork deliveries from European Union countries to Russia,” Rosselkhoznadzor said. “Supplies from other areas are replacing European pork on the Russian market.”
The European Commission, the 28-country bloc’s administrative arm, “has always said that we want a lift of the embargo for the whole of the EU, and we’ve asked member states to refrain from making bilateral negotiations with the Russian Federation,” Frederic Vincent, a spokesman for the EU health commissioner, said by e-mail today. He declined to comment on whether the commission had turned down Russia’s request to resume trade with some EU countries.
“The EU cannot accept that a very small part of its territory (five EU countries for example) would be open to trade pork with Russia and not the other major part, which is according to the international standards free of ASF,” EU trade spokesman John Clancy said by e-mail today. “This would be totally arbitrary, at odds with any scientific principles and against international rules.”
Russian pork imports totaled 112,900 metric tons from the start of the year to May 5, down 34% from the same timeframe last year, the country’s Agriculture Ministry said this week. Russia imported 1.4 billion euros ($1.9 billion) worth of EU pork last year, according to the European Commission.
Rosselkhoznadzor issued the statement after its head Sergei Dankvert met with Romano Marabelli, chief veterinary officer of Italy’s Department for Veterinary Public Health, Nutrition and Food Safety in Moscow yesterday, according to Rosselkhoznadzor. Germany is the biggest EU pork producer, followed by Spain and France, according to Eurostat.
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