Denmark prepared to sign its own deal with Russia to protect pig interests
The effect of the political crisis in Ukraine, most particularly the strained relationship between the EU and Russia, has reached the Danish agricultural sector, where pig farmers are reported to be losing millions of kroner every day.
Top officials from the EU Commission have negotiated with the Russian authorities several times in vain and the government-run food product authorities, Fødevarestyrelsen, has announced that it is prepared to go it alone and agree to bilateral trade agreements with Russia.
“We believe that the EU Commission has had adequate time to find a solution. That hasn’t happened and should Russia approach Denmark, then we will look into the possibilities of resuming the exportation via a bilateral trade agreement,” Henriksen said.
As things stand, the Russian pork embargo is costing the Danish pig industry about 40 million kroner every week.
Billion-kroner business at risk
Russia initially banned the importation of pork from all EU nations seven weeks ago after wild boar in the Lithuania/Poland border region were found to have swine flu, and negotiations have stalled largely thanks to the political strife taking place in Ukraine.
“Unfortunately, I think it will be tough to make a deal because of the current political tension between the EU and Russia,” Per Henriksen, a spokesperson for Fødevarestyrelsen, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “If the crisis was just about the swine flu, we would have found a solution by now.”
The issue was underlined by the slaughter company Danish Meat Company, which went from having 125 employees and butchering about 20,000 pigs a month before the crisis to firing almost its entire staff and shutting down production.
Denmark is the world’s second largest exporter of pork to Russia. In 2013, Denmark exported 131,000 tonnes of pork to Russia for a value of 2.1 billion kroner.