Farmers Frustrated With Russian Barriers to Pig Trade
With the Russian market still blocking live pig exports, Estonian farmers are grumbling that the European Commission should take Russia to task for not living up to its free trade pledges as WTO member.
The ban on import of pork from Estonia established by Russian authorities in March still stands, even though Russia became a full member of the WTO about a month ago.
Pig farmers exported 211,000 animals to Russia in 2011. This year only 74,000 pigs have been exported, most of them to Latvia, Lithuania and Poland where prices are 15 percent lower, according to ETV.
"Our future really depends on how much the price of meat will rise, as feed prices have seen substantial rises. If the meat price increases, farmers will survive, but if it doesn't keep up with grain prices, it is hard to predict what will happen," said a supervisory board member at Viru Lihaühistu, Einar Jakobi, who met in Tartu to discuss the situation.
"Russia has been a member of the WTO for over a month now and the European Union has not moved a muscle to file a complaint. And actually it isn't just about Estonia, but Latvia and Lithuania, too," said Jaan Sõrra, president of the central farmers confederation, which organized the meeting.
The Agriculture Ministry's permanent representative to the WTO, Kristina Uibopuu, says the EC has in fact promised to defend Estonian interests, and that negotiations with Russia are dragging on.
"The EU trade commissioner said so two weeks ago, too, that we won't hesitate to go to the WTO's internal tribunal if the problem doesn't resolve soon," she told ETV.