Russia decides to block EU cattle, hog imports
(MOSCOW) - Russia said Monday it would go ahead with its threat to block imports of live pigs and cattle from EU states despite a last-ditch bid by a team of European experts to defuse the new trade row.
Russia's Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance said the ban would go into effect on Tuesday over fears about the Schmallenberg virus that causes birth defects in cattle.
The service said the ban would go into effect due to "the absence of sufficient safety controls... on the part of relevant European Commission services."
Russia issued its first warning two weeks ago after initially suspending live-animal and genetic-material imports from five Western European countries in January.
The threat instilled immediate panic in Latvia -- a small Baltic nation that one local official said could lose about two-thirds of its export revenues.
A group of EU experts flew to Moscow last week in a bid to diffuse the dispute on Latvia's strong insistance.
The Russian statement called the ban "temporary" but gave no indication of when it might be lifted.
It listed a series of complaints about EU safety standards and said it was now up to the bloc to improve its own procedures and assure Russia that the cattle and hog imports were safe.
Russia and the European Union have waged a series of trade disputes in recent months.
Moscow especially angered the bloc last summer when it banned all EU vegetable imports in advance of a July summit between the two sides.
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