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The trade war between the EU and Russia over pig meat and pig product exports is hotting up.
The EU has called for backing from the World Tarde Organisation to impose further stiff sanctions against Russia or continuing the ban on pork products because of its concerns over health and sanitary measure in the EU in countries where there have been outbreaks of African swine fever.
The WTO said that at a special meeting of its Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) on 3 January, a European Union request for authorisation to suspend concessions or other obligations with respect to the Russian Federation in a dispute over import restrictions on pig products was referred to arbitration.
At the meeting, the EU said it had requested the suspension of concessions to preserve its rights in these dispute settlement proceedings.
The EU said that if Russia had agreed to a sequencing agreement as proposed by the EU, this step would not have been necessary at this stage.
The EU said it took note of the information provided by Russia on measures taken to implement the recommendations and rulings in this case.
These are very important, the EU said, including on the issue of adaptation of sanitary measures to regional conditions under the terms of Article 6 of the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement). The EU said it is currently analysing all relevant elements of the Russian measures.
The Russian Federation referred to its communication of 8 December 2017, in which it informed WTO members that all rulings and recommendations of the DSB in the dispute were implemented by Russia in full and within the reasonable period of time agreed by the parties to the dispute.
In the light of these steps taken, Russia repeated its strong disagreement with the allegations of the EU that Russia failed to comply with the recommendations and rulings of the DSB within the reasonable period of time in this dispute. Consequently, Russia reiterated its objection to the EU`s request for the suspension of concessions or obligations, as well as the proposed level thereof (EUR 1.39 billion per year plus a yearly increase rate of 15 per cent).
Russia also said the EU failed to resolve the disagreement as to the existence and/or consistency of measures taken by Russia to comply with the recommendations and rulings of the DSB in this dispute by referring this dispute to a compliance panel under Article 21.5 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) before submitting the request for suspension of obligations and concessions pursuant to Article 22.2 of the DSU. The compliance proceedings must precede retaliation if there are any disagreements over compliance and such disagreements must be resolved through the establishment of a compliance panel, Russia added.
The EU again regretted that Russia could not agree to a sequencing agreement which it said would have made the current step unnecessary.
The DSB took note of the statements and that the matter has been referred to arbitration as required by Article 22.6 of the DSU.
The Russian Ministry of Economic Development said it did not agree with a range of conclusions made by the Panel and the Appellate Body in the dispute raised within the WTO Russian Federation – Measures on the Importation of Live Pigs, Pork and Other Pig Products from the European Union (DS 475), in particular with the conclusions regarding the lack of justification of the suspension of import of the relevant products from the territory of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
However, rumours that Russia was about to withdraw from the WTO have been squashed by the Russian Government, while it strongly defended its position to maintain the ban on EU pork products.
“We believe that the panellists guided by procedural formalities overlooked the key factor of continuing spread of the African Swine Fever (ASF) within the territory of the EU and, consequently, did not make a necessary analysis of the practical effectiveness of the instruments of the EU for containing of the disease, simply taking EU’s word for It,” the Russian government said.
“However, these conclusions are refuted by the real situation on the ground – the continuation of the ASF outbreaks within the territories of the said EU Member States as well as by the new recorded outbreaks within the territories of other EU Member States.
“The competent authorities of the Russian Federation have implemented the relevant conclusions of the DSB in full, in good faith and within the reasonable period of time for implementation notified to the DSB.
“They will continue to monitor the ASF situation within the EU along with the assessment of risks of further spread of the ASF within the EU. We expect our EU colleagues to fully cooperate with Rosselkhoznadzor without impeding our access to necessary data and conduct of inspections and checks for the purpose of collection of such data. The decisions taken will not lower the level of veterinary protection of the Russian Federation.
“We also recall that in accordance with the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of 6 August 2014 No 560 and the Resolutions of the Government of the Russian Federation of 7 August 2014 No778 imports of live pigs (except for purebred pedigree animals) and pig products originating from the States that adopted a decision to apply economic sanctions in respect of natural and/or legal persons of the Russian Federation, in particular the EU and its Member States, continue to be prohibited.”