Speaking at a recent press conference, the head of Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor Sergey Dankvert said that the volume of meat imported from Europe was likely to fall in 2013 even whether or not new import restrictions are imposed.
“The situation is the following: they always declare [the implementation of the Russian demands on product safety], while we continue to find [violations]. So I think Russian businesses will already be automatically rejecting European products and, even if we do not limit the supply [of European meat], our businesses will not buy it,” he said.
Dankvert said that, as stated earlier, Rosselkhoznadzor is currently considering a complete ban on the import of breeding cattle from the EU, because European veterinary services can not ensure its safety.
He added that he did not exclude the possibility that Russia might stop all animal product trade with Europe in the future, and importers therefore needed to move away from trade with Europe and start buying breeding stock from alternative countries.
“We must understand that we should not depend so much on Europe, because in the end we also have the US and Australia,” he said.
He pointed out that recent import bans meant Russia had already become less dependent on livestock products from the EU.
“Germany and the Netherlands, are already no longer supplying us with animal products, because they have a lot of cases [of veterinary rules violation]. For Italy, for example, we can make some discount in terms of breeding stock. We also can find a solution on France, but in general, we should not depend on so much from Europe,” he said.
Over the past few weeks, the Customs Union has imposed new restrictions on the supply of cattle from Europe. In the last days of 2012, Russia restricted the import and transit through its territory of cattle and small ruminants from Sweden because of the country’s registration of the Schmallenberg Virus, and in early January, a similar decision was taken by Belarus in respect of the same products from Hungary, which has also been hit by the virus.