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EU to Extend Sanctions against Russia through January 2016

On June 17, ambassadors from the 28 European Union member states agreed to extend economic sanctions against Russia – which stem from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine – through Jan. 31, 2016. EU foreign ministers are expected to ratify the decision when they meet June 22 in Luxembourg.

This move makes it even more likely that Russia will extend its embargo on imports of many EU food products – including most pork products – beyond the one-year anniversary date of Aug. 7, 2015. In fact, Russian officials suggested that the extension of EU sanctions could lead to the embargo being expanded to include more European products. The Russian embargo also covers imports of many products from the United States, Canada, Australia and Norway, including most pork and beef products. EU pork has been shut out of the Russian market since Jan. 30, 2014, due to findings of African swine fever (ASF) in EU member states Lithuania, Latvia and Poland. So even if the Russian embargo is lifted, the ASF-related impasse will still need to be addressed before EU pork returns to the market, and recent meetings between EU and Russian regulatory officials have yielded little progress on ASF.