STC Number - 449

The Russian Federation's bluetongue-related import restriction on ruminants

Maintained by: Russian Federation
Raised by: European Union
Supported by:
First date raised: November 2018 G/SPS/R/93, paras. 3.11-3.12
Dates subsequently raised: March 2019 (G/SPS/R/94, paras. 3.80-3.81)
July 2019 (G/SPS/R/95, paras. 4.101-4.102)
Number of times subsequently raised: 2
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 01 Live animals
Primary subject keyword: Animal Health
Keywords: Bluetongue; International Standards / Harmonization
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In November 2018, the European Union raised its concern regarding the Russian Federation's import restriction in relation to bluetongue. The European Union explained that several years ago, the Russian Federation had banned imports of all susceptible live animals and their genetic material from the areas affected by the disease, following the notification of outbreaks in limited areas of the European Union. In response to the Russian Federation's notification of these measures in 2014 and 2016, the European Union had expressed in writing, and through bilateral exchanges, its view that the measures were not in line with Chapter 8.3 of the OIE Terrestrial Code. The European Union underscored that the OIE recommendations indicated that the export of susceptible animals and their genetic material from areas affected by the disease should be allowed under certain conditions, such as vaccination, laboratory testing or protection of animals from vectors in vector-protected establishments. These conditions were also reflected in the relevant veterinary export certificates agreed between the European Union and the Russian Federation. However, this arrangement was not being respected, and despite its repeated requests, the Russian Federation had not provided the scientific justification for its measures. The European Union urged the Russian Federation to bring its measures in line with the international standards, and allow the resumption of trade in ruminants and their genetic material without further delay.

The Russian Federation explained that bluetongue was a wide-spread, dangerous viral disease of small ruminants and cattle, notifiable to the OIE, which had become established in Western Europe. Five Mediterranean countries had declared themselves as endemic. The Russian Federation underscored its interest in the regular import of breeding cattle and small ruminants, and maintaining trade links with its traditional partners in the European Union. In this regard, appropriate measures had been taken during the bluetongue outbreak in the European Union, in order not to completely stop the mutually beneficial trade in live animals. These measures had included the signing of the veterinary certificates agreed by the European Union and the Russian Federation, recognition and regular update of the bluetongue-free zone, as well as close contact between research institutes and veterinary services of the Russian Federation and the European Union, which had to date ensured safe supplies of live animals from individual farms. This approach had proven successful, as trade had been maintained at a high level, and the Russian Federation had also remained free from bluetongue. The Russian Federation further noted that from 1 October 2016 to 31 December 2020, import and marketing of breeding cattle, breeding pigs, sheep and goats, horses, poultry, eggs and semen, and embryos thereof were exempted from value-added tax in the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation indicated that it was taking the necessary steps to update its veterinary legislation in light of the current epidemic risks and economic interests of Russian importers. In this regard, the draft regulation from the Ministry of Agriculture on bluetongue spread, which was currently being reviewed, was destined to eliminate current contradictions between the veterinary certificate and the domestic legislation. The Russian Federation called for the European Union's understanding, and for continued constructive work in the prevention of the spread of bluetongue in Europe.

In March 2019, the European Union briefly referred to STC No. 411, which had not been raised at the current meeting, to acknowledge the Russian Federation's consideration of EU concerns on import restrictions targeting certain animal products from Germany. The European Union thanked the Russian Federation for its cooperation on that matter and announced that it would report formally on the resolution of that STC at the following Committee meeting. With regards to STC No 449, the European Union referred to its previous statement and reported a lack of progress. The European Union argued that the measures taken were inconsistent with OIE standards and with the export certificates agreed between the European Union and the Russian Federation. The European Union regretted that, in February, the Russian Federation had notified further restrictions affecting three Federal States in Germany. The European Union called upon the Russian Federation to bring the measures on bluetongue in line with international standards and resume the trade of safe animals and genetic material.

The Russian Federation explained that bluetongue was an emerging transboundary viral disease of small ruminants and cattle in Europe that could cause significant losses among ruminants. Bluetongue had become established in Western Europe and five Mediterranean countries had declared themselves as endemic. The disease had been reported in Germany in late 2018, when no bluetongue vectors were active, and that the three Federal States in Germany had been affected. The territory of the Russian Federation had remained free from bluetongue due to a combination of strict control measures and a risk-oriented approach, helping to maintain trade in livestock at a rather high level with the European Union while protecting the Russian territory from an outbreak of the disease. The Russian Federation acknowledged the differences between its current legislation and international standards, which a new draft Order by the Ministry of Agriculture was intended to address. The Russian Federation reported on the status of the draft Order and the new veterinary rules, and on the time required to complete internal legislative processes.

In July 2019, the European Union reported that STC No. 411 had been solved and that the bans from 2013 had been lifted. The European Union thanked the Russian Federation for its cooperation on this matter. It also acknowledged progress made in relation to STC No. 449 on import restriction on ruminants, the formal resolution of which it hoped to announce soon.

The Russian Federation thanked the European Union and looked forward to further fruitful cooperation.