The Appellate Body decision will not lead to decrease in ASF protection in the Russian Federation


On 23 February 2017 the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization issued its report  in the dispute «Russian Federation – Measures on Importation of Live Pigs, Pork and Other Pig Products from the EU». The Russian Federation will fully implement this decision in order to bring its measures into conformity with the WTO rules. The time-period for such implementation will be either mutually agreed by the parties to the dispute or determined by an arbitrator.

The appellate review results leave mixed impression.

On the one hand, the Russian Federation appreciates the Appellate Body conclusion, according to which the panel findings on articles 6.1 and 6.3 of the WTO SPS Agreement were reversed.

On the other hand, the Appellate Body confirmed the panel`s conclusion on the restrictive nature of the Russian measures affecting the importation of pig products from the EU. This conclusion does not support the position of the Russian Federation on that matter and raises a number of issues, which must be discussed bilaterally between the EU and the Russian Federation. In particular, AB reached a conclusion on the inconsistency and, consequently, non-obligatory nature of use of accompanying documents for pork importation from EU, that were previously agreed upon bilaterally between Russia and the EU. Thus, the Appellate Body disavowed the commitment given by Russiato the EU, set out in the Working Party Report on the accession of the Russian Federation to the WTO, within the framework of which pork importation used to be made for thousands of millions of euros. Consequently AB proposed to reach new agreements with the Russian competent authorities. The parties will have to develop new conditions from scratch. In fact, the Appellate Body has adopted a more general decision that the Russian Federation is not only in a position, but also is obliged to unilaterally amend the bilateral veterinary certificates previously agreed with other WTO members. 

This is quite unexpected and apparently positive signal - confirmation of the priority of the basic obligations under the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures over the specific commitments under the Protocol on Russia's accession to the WTO. This finding meets the expectations of many recently acceded members of the WTO, who were forced to take additional, different from the standard obligations, known as a "WTO-plus" obligation. The legal consequences of this decision will be carefully analyzed.

The Appellate Body decision will not lead to decrease in ASF protection in the Russian Federation. Such protection will be ensured in accordance with international standards and practices. Also this decision will not affect measures of the Russian Federation in response to the EU unilateral «sanctions» against Russia.