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    EU Welcomes WTO Ruling Against 'Political' Russian Pork Import Ban

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    The World Trade Organization (WTO) decision to support the European Union in its trade dispute with Russia over Moscow's ban on the import of pork products from the bloc sends a strong message to Russia over the "political" protectionist measure, the European Commission said Friday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Earlier in the day, a WTO panel said it found Russia's blanket ban on EU pork imports, as well as on separate products from Poland and the Baltic states, to be inconsistent with a number of WTO articles as well as the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Agreement. Russia, which introduced the ban in 2014 amid concerns over the spread of the African swine fever in Europe, said that the decision was politically motivated.

    "The ruling sends a strong signal to Russia, and all WTO Members, as regards their obligation to respect international standards…For most of the products dealt with in this case, trade continues to be restricted by a politically motivated ban imposed on EU agri-food products by Russia in August 2014," the European Commission said in a statement.

    The WTO panel ruling said that the ban was discriminatory and in excess of what is required to reach appropriate levels of protection from swine fever, as well as stating that a ban on certain products from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland is inconsistent with international animal health standards.

    The European Commission rejected concerns over the pig disease, stating that the bloc has one of the world's most efficient animal health safety systems and that the Russian ban thus has little to do with sanitary concerns.

    The commission's statement stressed that the European Union will continue using WTO procedures to fight alleged protectionist measures by Russia.

    Russia's agricultural watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor banned pork imports from EU member states in January, 2014, after an outbreak of the disease was recorded among pigs in Lithuania. Another outbreak has been recorded in Poland. Russia requested guarantees from EU authorities, which responded by calling the ban excessive and asked the WTO to form a panel to resolve the dispute.

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    pork, European Union, World Trade Organization (WTO), Russia
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