Thursday, April 3, 2014

Russia faces trading ban challenge

The European Union is threatening to take Russia to court at the World Trade Organization over its ban on pork.

The Russians banned pork imports from the entire European Union on the basis that African Swine Fever in Lithuania might spread to Poland.

Russia has been actively banning imports of beef and pork from many countries, often on a flimsy basis.

For example, it has banned pork and beef imports from Canada, the United States and other countries that allow the use of ractopamine growth promotant to improve profit margins.

It has banned U.S. beef from cattle fed Zilmax, a ban that is academic now that the drug maker, Merck, has taken Zilmax off the market.

Ever since the Uruguay Round of World Trade Negotiations resulted in a deal to curb agriculture subsidies and import protections, Russia and many other countries have used SPS (sanitary and phytosanitary) standards to block imports.

In the current Doha Round of negotiations, there are proposals to make SPS standards less political and to require them to be based on internationally-recognized science.

The Doha Round is, however, stalled after more than a decade of negotiations.