WTO denies Russia appeal over EU pork ban

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GENEVA – Russia recently lost an appeal of a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling against a ban on imports of pork from the European Union.

Russia implemented the ban following outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF) in certain regions of the EU in 2014 citing phytosanitary concerns. The restrictions included imports of live pigs, pork and certain pig products from the EU. Additionally, Russia adopted country-specific bans on imports of pork products from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, which suffered ASF outbreaks, as well as a ban on imports of pork products from all EU member states. The European Union challenged the EU-wide pork ban and the country-specific bans.

In August 2016, a WTO dispute resolution panel found that Russia’s country-specific pork ban did not conform to relevant World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) standards and therefore were inconsistent with Russia’s obligations under WTO rules.

The panel also found that the EU provided to Russia “the necessary evidence to objectively demonstrate… that there are: areas within the EU territory outside Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, which are free of ASF and are likely to remain so; as well as areas within Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland that are free of ASF and are likely to remain so.”

On claims that the ban was applied in a discriminatory manner, the panel agreed, saying the restrictions were applied “in a manner which constitutes a disguised restriction on international trade.”

In September 2016, Russia appealed the dispute resolution panel’s decision to the WTO Appellate Body, which upheld the ruling.

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