EU Initiates WTO Case on Russia’s Pork Import Ban

Chart comparing Russia live hog prices monthly from 2009 through 2014

In a move that has been under discussion for some time, the European Union confirmed this week that is has opened a case before the WTO on Russia’s ban on pork imports from the EU. Now in its 10th week, the ban was imposed as a result of four cases of African swine fever (ASF) confirmed in EU member states Lithuania and Poland. EU officials argue that the blanket ban on all pork imports from the EU is disproportionate and in violation of WTO rules.

The Russian business publication RBC Daily reported this week that wholesale prices for live slaughter pigs in Russia have soared to record highs of $1.30 per pound, increasing about 40 percent since the beginning of the year.

Based on Global Trade Atlas data, Russia’s imports of pork/pork variety meat in February were down 41 percent from a year ago to 29,594 mt, and were mainly from Canada and Brazil. Price increases are already being seen at the processing and retail levels, but the degree to which these prices continue to climb will partly depend on whether processors are able to access raw materials from other sources.

EU hog prices declined for five weeks following Russia’s imposition of the import ban, but have been recovering since mid-March. In the first week of April carcass prices were still down 6 percent year-over-year in euro terms but just one percent lower in dollars ($101.19/cwt), reflecting a stronger euro. EU piglet prices rebounded during the last two weeks of March but were still down 1.5 percent year-over-year, with the latest average being $70.30 per head.

Chart comparing EU Hog Carcass prices weekly from January 2010 through December 2015 in US dollars