Russia appeals against WTO ruling over pigmeat restrictions

Russia appeals against WTO ruling over pigmeat restrictions

Russia has appealed a World Trade Organization decision that found its ban on pork products from the European Union breached international trade rules. 

The appeal, filed on 23 September, concerns a case brought to the WTO for arbitration by the EU. In a statement, the WTO confirmed the Russian Federation filed an appeal against its panel ruling on pork import restrictions, which was delivered in August.

The ruling concerns a ban imposed by Russia in early 2014. According to the EU, the ban was imposed because of a "limited number" of cases of African Swine Fever in areas in the EU close to the border with Belarus.

The EU argued its internal livestock movement and veterinary controls mean pigs and pigmeat products from areas unaffected by the disease are safe, so Russia's ban breaks WTO sanitary and phytosanitary rules. 

The WTO disputes settlement panel largely backed the EU and acknowledged Russia's refusal to accept imports of certain EU products and to adapt EU-Russia import certificates accordingly amounts to an EU-wide import ban. 

The EU said the ruling sent a "strong signal" to Russia regarding "their obligation to respect international standards".

Russia's restrictions on pork came into effect before Moscow banned a range of foodstuffs, including meat, from markets such as the US and the EU in response to sanctions from the West at the height of the Crimea crisis. Russia has since extended these trade restrictions until 2017

The WTO will now consider Russia's appeal over the swine fever related pork ban, which remains in place. If Moscow refuses to comply with its ultimate decision, the WTO could authorise retaliatory EU import duties on Russian exports to the bloc, to compensate its member states.