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Intent to license Ukrainian meat imports contradicts WTO rules

Kyiv. February 2, 2011

“The Draft Decree of the Ukrainian government “On Introduction of Meat Products Licensing” runs counter to the commitments that Ukraine undertook acceding to the WTO,” considers Associate of Volkov and Partners Law Firm, Iryna Polovets.
“As a WTO member, Ukraine committed to cancel and disapply quantitative restrictions of imports or other non-tariff measures, including licensing, which are not in line with the provisions of WTO Agreements,” commented Ms. Polovets during interview to the Interfax-Ukraine Agency on the Draft Decree of the Government prepared by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine and published on the ministerial website.
“In turn, the Agreement on Procedure of Import Licensing requires transparency, simplification and speeding-up of import procedures, as well as prohibits introducing measures that suppress and violate the due course of trade and appear to be administratively burdensome,” she added.
As Ms. Polovets states, such governmental actions shall, inter alia, comply with the provisions of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture and another one on Import Licensing Procedures.
The Associate mentioned that in accordance with the WTO Agreement on Agriculture members of the organization waive such measures as mere customs duties. “In its turn, definition of such measures includes import licensing,” accentuated Ms. Polovets.
Moreover, the Associate considers licensing to be only necessary where there is lack of other procedures applied to win the objectives. “So far as, according to the explanation letter to the document, the licensing is introduced to prevent import of low-cost and low-quality commodities; it figures that veterinary and sanitary control is quite enough to reach the aim,” she said.
Ms. Polovets also added that in case of the Draft Decree adoption Ukraine shall inform about the said measures to the WTO Committee on Import Licensing to notify interested counterparties and reconcile such measures. “Otherwise, Ukraine could not escape a negative reaction from interested WTO members. This, consequently, could aggravate business climate in the country that has already become unstable after the introduction of grain export quotation,” summed up the Associate.
Reportedly, the Draft Decree sets to introduce licensing of pork, poultry and its by-products and lard imports.
The explanation letter specifies that in 2010 Ukraine imported 148.4 thousand tons of meat and poultry byproducts, 102 000 tons of pork and 38.7 thousand tons of lard, pork and poultry fat. Furthermore, pursuant to the State Veterinary and Phytosanitary Service, the products imported to the country were mostly of low quality. The Draft Decree’s makers believe that the situation further gets more complicated by the fact that EU countries subsidize the meat production and export, so European producers enjoy the possibility to export their products at prices that are considerably lower than in Ukraine.
According to the explanation letter to the Draft Decree, such meat products import could become a destabilizing factor in the development of domestic livestock sector and result in squeezing domestically made animal products out of the market with further threat posed to the national food safety of the country.

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