18 Sep 2023 18:42

EC declines to comment on 3 EU members' unilateral bans on Ukraine's agricultural exports

BRUSSELS. Sept 18 (Interfax) - The European Commission (EC) is not yet ready to comment on the decisions made by Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to unilaterally ban imports of some grain products from Ukraine, EC spokesperson Miriam Garcia Ferrer said.

"At this stage, we cannot comment, we are still analyzing the measures. So we cannot really say anything over the concrete bans, but we need to insist that our focus now is to make sure that this system works. The system we announced on Friday," Ferrer told a briefing in Brussels on Monday.

On September 15, the EC announced an end to restrictions on importing Ukrainian grain and other products, provided that Ukraine introduces measures to avoid a new surge in EU imports.

"Ukraine has agreed to introduce any legal measures (including, for example, an export licensing system) within 30 days to avoid grain surges," the document released by Brussels said.

"Ukraine is to put in place from September 16, 2023 effective measures to control the export of four groups of goods in order to prevent any market distortions in the neighboring member states. Ukraine will submit an Action Plan to the platform no later than close-of-business on Monday, September 18, 2023," the document said.

Explaining the reasons for the EC's decision to lift the embargo on Ukrainian grain exports, Ferrer said: "Following a thorough assessment of the situation with all the data that we had available, also the information that had been discussing in the framework of the coordination platform that has met already nine times, we concluded that these preventive measures [on Ukrainian exports] that were placed on a temporary basis were no longer necessary. To start with, we saw that the work of the platform has successfully allowed to significantly increase trade through the Solidarity Lanes, but also to enhance the capacity and to solve concrete logistical problems."

All of this means that Ukraine can continue and even increase its exports to third countries, having introduced specific measures on September 16 to avoid an oversupply to EU countries, she said.

In addition, the coordinating platform will meet this afternoon for the first time since the embargo was lifted, in order to hear Ukraine's report on the measures implemented and present an action plan, she said.

Asked about Ukraine's threat to make a complaint to the World Trade Organization about the Hungarian, Polish and Slovak bans, Ferrer said: "The WTO action was not discussed, because this is something that is not necessary under the EU approach. So, this is not part of the discussion that we had with Ukraine."