Espreso. Global

Ukraine may ban imports of products from Poland, Hungary and Slovakia — Ukraine’s PM

19 September, 2023 Tuesday

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that Ukraine will file a lawsuit with the World Trade Organization and may retaliate by banning imports of goods from Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia

Shmyhal made the statement on Telegram.

"Ukraine will file a lawsuit with the World Trade Organization against Poland, Hungary and Slovakia for unilateral restrictions on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products. At the same time, our government is offering the EU and neighboring countries a compromise scenario," the Prime Minister wrote.

The Prime Minister emphasized that the country has already submitted to the European Commission an action plan to control the export of four groups of Ukrainian agricultural products. It will help prevent any market distortions in neighboring EU member states. The government plans to adopt a resolution stipulating that exports to 5 neighboring countries will be subject to verification and approval by the Ukrainian Ministry of Economy.

"At the same time, Ukraine has already filed a formal request to Poland, Hungary and Slovakia regarding violation of the World Trade Organization rules. We are also launching an anti-discrimination investigation against the unfriendly actions of these countries in the trade sphere based on 2023 statistics. If Poland and Hungary do not agree to the measures agreed with the European Commission and do not lift their unilateral bans on our goods, we will decide to ban the import of certain categories of goods from these countries to Ukraine," Shmyhal explained.

He emphasized that Russia is attacking Ukrainian ports every day, destroying infrastructure, grain elevators, attacking agricultural enterprises and mining fields, and the further blocking of exports by neighboring countries is hurting the Ukrainian economy, finances, tax revenues and jobs.

"Such a blockade will also play into the hands of Russia's plan to cause another global food crisis. We once again call on our neighbors to abandon harmful and unlawful restrictions, political populism and embark on a constructive dialogue that will actually benefit everyone," Shmyhal added.

Some details regarding ban on Ukraine grain imports

On February 2, Polish farmers began blocking checkpoints on the border with Ukraine. They were outraged that the uncontrolled inflow of Ukrainian grain to Poland had caused prices for their products to plummet. Local farmers argue that Ukrainian grain should have been transported through Poland only to ports, but it ended up on the Polish market. 

On February 16 and 17, Polish farmers resumed protests on the border with Ukraine.

On April 7, Ukraine agreed to stop exporting grain to Poland, and on April 15, the country approved a ban on the import of Ukrainian grain and other food products to Poland.

In April, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Hungary also decided to unilaterally ban imports of agricultural products from Ukraine.

On June 5, the EU decided to extend the ban on imports of certain agricultural products from Ukraine for five EU members until September 15, but promised to gradually lift it.

Following this, Poland's Minister of Agriculture, Robert Telus, stated that Poland would also urge the European Union to extend the ban on Ukrainian grain imports. If the EU refuses, Poland would consider implementing its own restrictions. He noted that Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary had similar intentions.

In response, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its disapproval of the plans by Slovakia, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, and Hungary to prolong the ban on Ukrainian grain imports until the end of 2023, deeming the actions of these five EU countries unacceptable.

On September 13, Bulgaria's parliamentary committee on economic policy and innovation passed a draft decision indicating that the country does not support the continuation of the ban on certain Ukrainian agricultural product imports beyond September 15.

On Friday, September 15, the European Commission decided not to extend the ban on Ukrainian grain exports to the EU: Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia announced that they would extend the embargo unilaterally.

On the same day, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal noted that the EU's decision would not only help Ukrainian exports and the economy in the face of the blockade of Black Sea ports, but would also contribute to global food security. He called on individual EU member states to refrain from unlawful unilateral restrictions on Ukrainian agricultural products.

Taras Kachka, Deputy Minister of Economy and Trade Representative, said that negotiations on agriculture had turned into aggression on the part of Poland and hints of influence during Ukraine's accession to the EU.

On September 18, Spanish Agriculture Minister Luis Planas Puchades said that a unilateral ban by any EU member state on imports of Ukrainian grain is illegal. Ukraine filed lawsuits with the World Trade Organization against Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, which unilaterally banned imports of Ukrainian agricultural products. Amid Ukraine’s legal action, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia decide to withdraw from the grain Coordination Platform, which was set up in May, bringing together Ukraine, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and the European Commission.

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