After much negotiation on the issue at EU level, there has been no success to date in removing the Russian ban on EU pigmeat being exported to that country.

The ban, which came in to place in January, was due to the discovery by Lithuanian authorities of two cases of African Swine Fever in wild boar near its border with Belarus.

Following the outbreak the EU Commission proposed to provisionally exclude the affected region in Lithuania from exporting pigs and pigmeat to other countries including Russia, thereby “regionalising” the outbreak and allowing EU Member States not affected by the disease to trade freely in live pigs, pigmeat and pigmeat products.

However the Russian Federation and Customs Union refused to accept regionalisation of the disease and imposed a ban on all exports of pigs, pigmeat and pigmeat products from the EU.

According to Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney: “Numerous meetings between the EU and the Russian Federation have taken place at political and technical level in the intervening period, in attempts to unblock the situation, but without success to date.”

He added: “Talks on the resumption of market access will continue next week with another high-level meeting between between Director General for the EU Commission (DG SANCO), Paolo Testori Coggi and her Russian counterpart.”

Minister Coveney stressed: “I am in agreement with the EU Commission that the ban is disproportionate.” He added that the Commission is currently considering instigating a WTO panel action against the Russian Federation for its non-respect of the regionalisation provision.

Minister Coveney commented: “I spoke on the matter at the Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels last week and I confirmed that Ireland supports the Commission approach to protecting the OIE( the international organisation for animal health) based regionalisation approach to managing animal disease outbreaks. I urged fellow Member States to continue to act as one on this issue and to show support for the Commission`s approach to dealing with the current difficulty.”

The Minister concluded: “The Russian market for Irish pork is extremely important with exports in 2013 of approx. 20,000 tonnes (66.5% higher than 2012) and a value of €55m. It is one of our largest non-EU markets and the strong 2013 sales performance contributed greatly to the rise in value of overall pigmeat exports by 3% in 2013 to €525m. It is hugely important therefore that the current ban by Russia on the importation of pigs and pigmeat from the EU be lifted as quickly as possible.

“On a positive note the Russian Federation recently agreed to lift the ban on finished product containing pork subject to certain conditions and treatment of the meat before export. This however accounts for only a small proportion of Ireland’s exports to Russia.”

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