On November 1-2, 2018 the Rosselkhoznadzor representatives took part in the 73rd session of the Committee on sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS Committee) which was held in Geneva at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) headquarters.
It should be noted that the event is held on a regular basis and aimed at discussion of pertinent issues of ensuring veterinary, phytosanitary and food safety of agricultural products traded internationally.
The major part of the SPS Committee agenda was traditionally dedicated to trade concerns expressed by Member States and connected to the measures taken by their trade partners. The process constitutes one of the instruments of pre-trial settlement of WTO trade differences.
Notably, the EU reaffirmed its concerns with restrictions on access of dairy and meat products from three German states to the Russian market which it considers only long-drawn and also with restrictions imposed by the Rosselkhoznadzor on exports of finished fish products from Estonian establishments.
The Rosselkhoznadzor introduced the above-mentioned measures due to unsatisfactory results of auditing and monitoring of products from processing plants of the indicated countries.
In their turn, the Rosselkhoznadzor representatives presented the progress results to the SPS Committee delegates and put forward ways of ultimate dispute settlement. The proposed ways involve close cooperation between competent surveillance bodies of three countries.
A new source of the EU concerns became the Russian restrictions on imports of cattle vaccinated against bluetongue which according to the EU contradict the OIE recommendations.
The Rosselkhoznadzor experts explained that since 2005 various bluetongue virus serotypes spread across European countries. At present, five EU countries declared themselves bluetongue-endemic.
According to the experts, the reason behind the spread of the disease is the global warming and subsequent expansion of habitat of bloodsucking insects which are primary vectors of the disease to the countries where it never occurred. International trade liberalization and population migration also contributed to the aggravation of the epidemiological situation.
However, thanks to a rigid veterinary control, including that applied to international trade operations, Russia has remained free from the disease.
At the same time, interested in regular imports of valuable breeding cattle and small ruminants, Russia undertook preventive measures during the bluetongue epidemics in the EU to continue mutually beneficial trade in live animals.
Among those measures were signing of a veterinary certificate agreed by the EU and Russia, recognition and regular adjustment of the bluetongue-free zone in the EU Member States as well as close contacts between Russia and EU’s research institutes and veterinary services.
Up to now, all the above-mentioned measures have been creating safe conditions for livestock supplies from certain holdings.
Recognizing the obligation to comply with the OIE standards taken by Russia when joining the WTO, the Rosselkhoznadzor is making efforts to harmonize the Russian veterinary legislation with the international one taking into account the existing epidemic risks, as well as economic interests of the Russian importers.
In addition, the Rosselkhoznadzor representatives held a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the SPS Committee.
One of such events was held with the participation of the Brazilian delegation, which welcomed the Rosselkhoznadzor decision to resume beef and pork supplies from nine Brazilian establishments on November 1, 2018. In its turn, the Russian party recalled the obligation of the Brazilian veterinary service to inspect Russian fish establishments in November 2018 with a view to expand fish product export from Russia to Brazil. The parties will complete the technical preparation for the inspection in the nearest future.
The Rosselkhoznadzor also had a meeting with the Japanese delegation and discussed the procedure for testing Japanese food products for strontium-90 residues, which is deemed to be unduly burdensome by the Japanese experts. The representatives of the Russian delegation noted that, based on the monitoring data submitted by Japan, the Rosselkhoznadzor had limited the fish product testing programme to testing only the products originating from the Fukushima Prefecture most seriously affected by the Fukushima nuclear accident. That made it possible for Japan to increase its fish supplies to the Russian market nearly four-fold in 2018.
The Rosselkhoznadzor representatives emphasized that, in its export requests, Japan should take into consideration the reciprocal interest of Russian manufacturers in supplying meat products, (poultry meat, pork, beef) to the Japanese market.
As for the Turkish delegation, in the course of the talks, it asked the Rosselkhoznadzor to resume poultry product supplies from the enterprises subjected to restrictions due to avian influenza outbreaks in 2015 since the country is free from the said disease at present.
The Rosselkhoznadzor experts forwarded a letter listing the necessary actions to the Turkish party, as well as recalled the need for the parties’ reciprocal efforts toward the mutual acceptance of regionalization conditions with respect to dangerous diseases in birds and animals. The Russian party also pointed out the lack of progress in authorizing Russian livestock products for the Turkish market. At the end of the meeting, the Rosselkhoznadzor suggested synchronizing animal product authorization procedure for the development of trade relations between the two countries.