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Ukraine to sue Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia over grain ban

Kyiv plans WTO action against three EU countries over the restrictions, Ukraine’s Trade Representative Taras Kachka told POLITICO. Earlier, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia imposed their own bans on Ukrainian grain following the EU Commission’s decision to end its restrictions.
ukrainian grain ban
Ukraine to sue Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia over grain ban. Photo: Depositphotos
Ukraine to sue Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia over grain ban

Ukraine will sue Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia at the World Trade Organisation over their refusal to drop a ban on Ukrainian agricultural products, Ukraine’s Trade Representative Taras Kachka told POLITICO.

“It is important to prove that these actions are legally wrong. And that’s why we will start legal proceedings tomorrow,” Kachka said on 17 September evening.

He also mentioned that Kyiv is preparing for a response targeting Polish fruit and vegetable exports.

The trio of Central European nations has rebelled against the EU Commission’s decision to allow Ukrainian grain sales throughout the EU, instead imposing their own bans. These restrictions aim to safeguard their farmers due to the competitive pricing of Ukrainian grain. However, Kachka argued that this logic is flawed.

“Poland’s ban will not help farmers, it will not affect prices because prices are global — what they are doing is based on public opinion,” the Ukrainian official stated. 

Kachka argued that the bold defiance exhibited by Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia toward Brussels has raised what he described as “the biggest systemic concern.”

“For many years, it’s been the EU Commission who is the trade negotiator and trade policy institution for the whole EU. And we used to work on this basis. The systemic approach of Budapest and Warsaw of ignoring the position of the EU institutions in trade policy, I think that will be a problem for the EU in general because there is no unity there,” Kachka noted.

Apart from grain, Poland has implemented further restrictions on Ukrainian flour and feed imports. On the other hand, Hungary has taken more extensive measures by banning an additional 25 products, including meat.

“These arbitrary prohibitions are ridiculous. I think that Hungary here is making a political statement that it wants to block trade with Ukraine and as well disregard Brussels completely. And that’s why I think that this is a very bold movement against both of us from Budapest,” Kachka said.

The EU banned Ukrainian agricultural products in May 2023 as a temporary measure “to avoid market distortions. The decision followed unilateral bans in five EU countries bordering Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria, in what has been called “blackmail” of the EU commission.

The ban only applied to domestic sales of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed, sunflower seeds, and sunflower oil while allowing transit of such products for export elsewhere. It blocked over 14% of Ukrainian agricultural exports, damaging its wartime economy.

The EU lifted the ban on Ukrainian agricultural products on 15 September 2023 after Ukraine agreed to introduce legal measures within 30 days to avoid grain surges and ensure fair competition.

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