STC Number - 380

Russia's restrictions on imports of fruits and vegetables from Poland (G/SPS/N/RUS/69)

Maintained by: Russian Federation
Raised by: European Union
Supported by:
First date raised: October 2014 G/SPS/R/76, paras. 3.2-3.3
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/RUS/69
Products covered: 07 Edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers; 08 Edible fruit and nuts; peel of citrus fruit or melons
Primary subject keyword: Plant Health
Keywords: Appropriate level of protection; Food safety; Plant health
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In October 2014, the European Union raised its concern regarding Russia's temporary restrictions on imports of certain fruits and vegetables from Poland, taken for phytosanitary and other reasons. These restrictions had been introduced as of 1 August 2014, and notified as G/SPS/N/RUS/69. The European Union questioned the consistency of this trade restriction with international principles, and whether it was supported by a risk assessment. Given the low rate of Polish phytosanitary non-compliance compared to the total number of consignments exported to Russia, the measures taken by Russia were disproportionate and more trade restrictive than necessary for the pests Frankliniella occidentalis and Grapholita molesta. The Russian measures were not transparent, since the Russian Federal Service had not provided regular notifications of interceptions to Poland in accordance with the IPPC and ISPM 13. Russia had not replied to EU requests for information on scope and methods of pest monitoring. The European Union reminded Russia of the principle of non-discrimination, which required that measures applied on exporting countries should not be more stringent than measures applied to the same pests within the importing country. Despite numerous invitations to establish an effective system of data exchange with Russia, many notifications were received with delay, thus hampering official investigations to enable appropriate corrective actions. The European Union was confident that the Polish phytosanitary certification system was effective and fully consistent with international standards, and underlined that the Polish National Plant Protection Organization had taken further measures to eliminate cases of non-compliance and was ready to demonstrate their effectiveness in a systems audit. Moreover, the European Union noted that in many cases the MRLs applied by Russia for nitrates and pesticides were far below those set by Codex Alimentarius. In some cases the findings of Russian laboratories could not be confirmed by Poland, which would be the subject of a meeting between Polish and Russian laboratory experts. The European Union requested Russia to immediately repeal its measures and to align them with international standards and its WTO obligations.

Russia enquired whether a National Plant Protection Organization existed at EU level, and whether Poland had delegated powers to the European Commission to discuss the ban. The Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) had repeatedly notified both the European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Consumers and the Polish State Plant Health and Seed Inspection Service about the non-compliance of Polish commodities with Russian phytosanitary requirements. Since 2008 the phytosanitary status of commodities imported from Poland was insufficient, which had led to increasing numbers of interceptions every year, suggesting that Polish pest control might not be sufficient. Moreover, there had been several violations of international and Russian phytosanitary requirements of high risk commodities from Poland in 2013. To avoid such situations, two meetings with Poland had been held in 2013 and 2014, at which Poland had promised to undertake actions to prevent phytosanitary certification of contaminated products and to issue phytosanitary certificates in accordance with international requirements. The Russian Federation noted, however, that Poland had not taken these actions, although certain Polish products imported to Russia had posed a public health threat due to pesticide residues and nitrates levels which neither complied with Russian nor EU standards. Given these systematic violations and failure to prevent the problems, Russia imposed science- and risk-based temporary restrictions on imports of certain regulated Polish commodities. Russia reminded Members that it had harmonized its plant quarantine legislation with the principles of international standards at Russia's accession to the WTO. Accordingly, the Russian Federation requested the European Union to specify the concrete clause, article or section of the SPS Agreement, IPPC, ISPM or other documents violated by Russian measures.