Pork saga continues – with dubious results

  • 2003-07-17
  • Baltic News Service

After having raised import tariffs to protect local pork producers, Estonia and Latvia have yet to feel the benefit of protectionism, according to reports.
The daily Eesti Paevaleht said that Estonian pork producers and processors complained that the customs duties on Polish pork imports have failed to have a noticeable effect.
Peeter Kibe, chairman of the board of OU Estonia, a leading hog breeder and pork producer, said the protectionist duties had not alleviated the situation with producers. He said the biggest problem was still import of cheap MDM, which is used in making sausage.
Kibe stressed that subsidized meat was still being imported from countries such as Hungary, Finland and Norway.
At the beginning of the year, OU Estonia had 10,000 pigs, but the number has now been brought down to half, he said.
Madlene Vettik, press officer at Rakvere Lihakombinaat, a meat packer, said no changes had been made in the meat purchase prices, as market supply was higher than demand.
Vettik also said market protection measures had brought no alleviation to producers.
But Ene Maadvere, head of the Agriculture Ministry's trade office, said the customs duties against exports from Poland had done their trick, as pork imports from Poland had declined by more than 95 percent against April.
In Latvia, Polish pork imports rose to a record-high level in June before the protectionist measures went into effect on July 3.
In June, some 1,400 tons of pork were imported from Poland, the figure being much higher than annual Polish pork imports that stood at 1,378 tons last year, reported the Latvian Sanitary Border Inspectorate.
Pork imports in June have soared 50 percent from May.
Latvian Hog Breeders' Association Chairman Varis Simanis said the large pork deliveries in June were due to meat packagers' attempts to stock up before the new duties came into place.
Total pork imports to Latvia this June reached 2,861 tons, of which 317 tons came from Estonia and 190 tons from Lithuania.
From July 1 - 11, while the protectionist measures were in effect, Latvia imported 299 tons of pork, including 78 tons from Estonia, 16 tons from Lithuania, 46 tons from Germany and Denmark and 159 tons from Poland.
Total pork imports to Latvia so far this year amount to 9,941 tons.
The pork import quota not subject to the extra customs duty has been set at 6,200 tons of pork and 408.5 tons of pork by-products.