12 Sep 2023 17:34

Ukrainian PM threatens to take Poland to WTO arbitration if it blocks Ukrainian grain exports

MOSCOW. Sept 12 (Interfax) - Ukraine will be forced to seek compensation through World Trade Organization arbitration if Poland blocks the export of Ukrainian grain, Prime Minister of Ukraine Denis Shmygal said.

"Ukraine is fulfilling its obligations under both the Association Agreement with the EU and WTO law. We have no intention of harming Polish farmers. We greatly appreciate the support of the Polish people and Polish families!" Ukrainian media quoted Shmygal as saying on social media.

But he said that Ukraine would be forced to turn to WTO arbitration to obtain compensation for damages in the event of trade law being violated "in the interests of pre-election political populism."

Ukrainian agricultural products do not pose any threat to the European Union's domestic market, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olga Stefanishina said. Consequently, any further restrictions on Ukrainian agricultural exports will have more of a political aspect.

"Ukraine complies with the trade rules. We expect the same from neighboring countries. Any unilateral measures constitute a circumvention of EU legislation," her press office quoting her as saying in an interview with Poland's Onet, Ukrainian media reported.

Consultations with Ukrainian agricultural businesses were held, Stefanishina said, noting that the five EU countries standing for extending the restrictive measures are not a priority market for Ukrainian agricultural exports.

"Our farmers count on the development and expansion of transit capabilities across the territory of neighboring EU member states, as the main consumers of our products are far beyond these five EU states. All factors that could pose a risk to Poland or any other EU country have been removed. Therefore, we expect the export restrictions not to be extended in September," she said.

Poland has finally decided not to open its borders to imports of Ukrainian agricultural products after September 15, regardless of what the EU thinks about it, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said earlier.

As reported, in April 2023, Poland, followed by Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria, under pressure from local producers, suspended imports of grain and other food products from Ukraine.

The countries agreed to lift unilateral restrictions only after lengthy negotiations with the European Union, the result of which was the European Commission agreeing to allocate 100 million euros in compensation to farmers in Ukraine's neighboring countries. After this, an embargo was approved at the European Union level on the import from Ukraine of several grains and oilseeds - wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower - by Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. These restrictions are in effect until mid-September.

Calls from these five states to extend the ban beyond September 15 are not supported by 22 of the 27 EU countries, Politico said.

In Poland, the next parliamentary elections are due to take place on October 15 to elect the entire composition of the Sejm and Senate.

For many years, Ukraine exported the bulk of grain and other agricultural products through its ports on the Black Sea. However, after the start of the military operation in the country, operations at the ports became severely limited. Export flows were largely reoriented to Europe. Ukrainian agricultural products began accumulating in large volumes in the EU countries neighboring Ukraine, which caused discontent among local farmers. The agricultural sectors in Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania suffered the most.