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Russia Most Active in WTO over Animal Health and Food Safety

23 October 2014

ANALYSIS - In just over two years since joining the World Trade Organization in August 2012, Russia has become one of the most active members of the body dealing food safety and animal health issues – the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committee.

It has given 52 regular and emergency updates of the disease situation in Russia and it has also laid out all the technical assistance it has been giving to developing countries on SPS issues.

Russia had been the subject of five specific trade concerns up to last week, when three new ones were introduced in at the latest meeting.

Russia has also raised two issues of concern itself.

In the year up to 15 September, Russia had notified the most emergency measures taken over sanitary and phytosanitary issues: 27 notifications or 28 per cent of the total from all members, according to the latest Secretariat report on transparency.

In its exchanges Russia has acknowledged that there is a political background to some of the issues.

But it has now called for cooperation, rather than confrontation and said political disagreements spoil the environment for finding a solution.

One of the major issues of concern is over the spread of African swine fever in the country.

At the meeting last week both Russia and the EU gave updates on the latest situation over African swine fever in Eurasia and Europe.

While they each described the measures they had taken to tackle the spread of the disease, which is found in wild boars and domestic pigs, they blamed the other for failing to deal properly with the risks.

They presented this as “information from members” rather than “specific trade concerns”, according to the WTO.

Russian restrictions on EU pigs and pork are now the subject of a full-fledged WTO legal dispute brought by the EU.

The panel to look into this dispute has been established but not yet composed, the WTO said.

Russia told the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committee last week that the disease is spreading in Lithuania, Poland, Latvia and Estonia, casting doubt on the EU’s guarantees that its controls are effective.

The EU countered that the disease has spread indirectly from Russia through Belarus and more recently had also spread directly from Russia, including by suspected illegal trade.

No case of the disease has been related to legal trade of products, the EU said, and it complained that the amount of information it shares has not been matched by others, including the failure of Russia and Belarus to provide information on their surveillance and control.

TheFishSite News Desk

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