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France says Russia to lift ban on live pigs, some pork products

Paris | Reuters –– Russia’s veterinary services has agreed to lift a ban on French live pigs, offal and fat imposed a year ago after an outbreak of African swine fever in the east of the European Union, the French farm ministry said.

Russia imposed the ban on EU pork products early in 2014 following the disease outbreak. This was not part of Moscow’s embargo in August on food imports from western countries, worth US$9 billion a year, in response to U.S. and EU sanctions on Russia for its role in the Ukraine crisis.

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The French farm ministry said in a statement on Monday the resumption of exports could take place in the coming weeks.

It said other EU countries had signed similar agreements with Russia on lifting part of the swine fever-related ban but did not say which ones.

In Moscow, Russia’s veterinary and phytosanitary surveillance service was not able to confirm immediately whether it had reached an agreement with France or other EU states.

Its spokesman Alexei Alekseenko told Reuters the service also discussed the issue with other EU countries, including Italy and Denmark.

“Some other countries want to join them (France, Italy and Denmark), all of them are located far from outbreaks of ASF (African swine fever) in Eastern Europe,” he said.

French pork producers have estimated they face losses of 500 million euros ($578 million) as a result of the bans.

The farm ministry said Russia represented a market of 100 million euros for French pig farmers. A spokesman said 70 per cent of French pig fat was exported to Russia before the embargo.

Russia is one of the world’s leading importers of edible offals such as head meat, liver, heart, kidney and tongue.

Reporting for Reuters by Sybille de La Hamaide and Gus Trompiz; additional reporting for Reuters by Polina Devitt in Moscow.

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