Although Moscow has not formally announced a full
ban, Russia has stopped Danish, Dutch and German trucks carrying
pork at its borders since the outbreak was confirmed on January 24,
EU officials said.
"Our Russian partners are effectively banning exports even from EU
Member States that are clearly not affected by the incident," EU
Health Commissioner Tonio Borg said in a statement. "Such a ban is
Russia and Belarus banned Lithuania pork imports shortly after the
ASF case was confirmed in two hunted wild boars in the Baltic state
A Spanish laboratory confirmed that two wild boars hunted in
southern Lithuania had a strain of the virus similar to that found
in cases in neighboring Belarus and Russia.
The EU says it has cordoned off farms in Lithuania to stop the virus
and that there is no evidence that it has spread to other countries.
The European Commission has proposed to Russian authorities that
they temporarily exclude Lithuanian pork from certified EU pork sold
to Russia, but said Russia is not ready to accept such a compromise.
"We will apply for EU support to deal with swine fever during a
meeting of the European Commission's Standing Committee on the Food
Chain and Animal Health on February 7," Jonas Milius, head of
Lithuania's State Food and Veterinary Service, told Reuters.
Milius said Lithuania's request would include financial assistance
to build a fence along its 700-kilometre-long border with Belarus to
prevent migration of wild boars as well as for compensation for
farmers who agree to slaughter their pigs in the risk zone.
Preliminary estimates put the cost of the fence at 15 million
Lithuanian litas ($5.89 million). Currently only about 70 kilometers
of the border are fenced.
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Milius said Lithuania neighbors Latvia and Poland would also
request assistance at next week's meeting.
Russia buys about a quarter of the EU's annual pork exports and
while that makes up a fraction of their bilateral annual trade, the
row highlights the tense ties between Brussels and Moscow.
The EU accuses Moscow of a string of restrictive trade practices
including policies to protect the Russian car industry and says
Russia needs to play by global trade rules as a member of the World
Russia is the EU's third-biggest trading partner after the United
States and China, with trade flows worth 335 billion euros ($455
billion) in 2012, the latest available data shows.
There is no cure for the African Swine Fever virus, which is most
common at small farms and is spread partly by wild boar. It is
considered harmless to humans.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott in Brussels
and Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; editing by Jason Neely)
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