MAGADAN, April 23. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia and the European Union will hold consultations on problems linked with Russia’s ban on pork imports from Europe, head of Russia’s veterinary and phytosanitary control authority (Rosselkhoznadzor) Sergei Dankvert told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

“Consultations will be held from April 30 to May 1. I can tell you that they have put their questions on 19 pages. They have prepared well. So, we are getting prepared too,” he said.

The process, in his words, had a protracted nature. “Maybe we will be able to find a common language. It is a matter of time,” he noted. “The longer the process is being dragged out, the worse it will tell on the Europeans – it will be more difficult to regain their positions on the Russian market. Today, we have opened access to our market for one more Brazilian company which ceased to use ractopamine. The number of such companies has increased considerably over the recent period. We have no say in this process, since it is a market process. Brazilians no longer use ractopamine because they have come to understand that they may grip the European pork market share in Russia.”

The European Union filed a claim with the World Trade Organization over Russia’s ban on pork imports from Europe on April 8, 2014. Russia imposed a ban on imports of pork and live pigs from all countries of the European Union on January 30, 2014 over a threat of African swine fever infection. On April 7, 2014, Rosselkhoznadzor imposed restrictions on pork products imports from Poland and Lithuania.

African Swine Fever (ASF) is a highly contagious notifiable disease of pigs caused by a virus. The disease may occur in acute, sub-acute or chronic forms. The acute form causes severe disease from which the majority of affected pigs die. African Swine Fever can be spread through direct contact with infected pigs, faeces or body fluids; indirect contact via fomites such as equipment, vehicles or people who work with pigs between pig farms with ineffective biosecurity; pigs eating infected pig meat or meat products; biological vectors – ticks of the species Ornithodoros. There is no vaccine against African Swine Fever, which can be stopped from spreading only through culling infected animals. The first African Swine Fever outbreak was registered in South Africa in 1903.