19 Sep 2023 09:52

Ukraine files WTO complaint against Poland, Slovakia, Hungary over food import ban

MOSCOW. Sept 19 (Interfax) - Ukraine has filed a demand in the World Trade Organization (WTO) to hold consultations with Poland, Slovakia and Hungary over their ban on imports of Ukrainian grain and other products.

"Under the Understanding on the rules and procedures of dispute settlement of the agreement on the establishment of the World Trade Organization, Ukraine has filed a demand to hold consultations with Slovakia, Poland and Hungary within the context of the WTO. This was announced by Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Yulia Sviridenko," Ukrainian media reported, citing the Economy Ministry's press release.

"It is fundamentally important for us that individual member countries cannot prohibit imports of Ukrainian goods. Therefore we are filing lawsuits in the WTO against them. At the same time, we hope that these countries will lift their restrictions and we will not have to sort out our relations in the courts for a long time. We need solidarity with them and protection of farmers' interests," Sviridenko was quoted as saying in the statement.

"The steps we have begun and the pressure of the European Commission and other member countries will help restore normal trade between Ukraine and neighboring countries," she said.

As a result of the unilateral ban on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products imposed by Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, Ukrainian exporters have already suffered and continue to suffer significant losses from idling, additional expenses and the inability to fulfill foreign trade agreements, she said.

Ukraine sees the ban by the three European Union members as a violation of their international obligations and believes that unilateral actions of EU members in the area of trade are unacceptable and that all EU members must coordinate and agree on trade policy, since it is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the EU.

A ban on Ukrainian exports to wheat, barley, rapeseed and sunflower seeds to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria was initially imposed on May 2 until June 5, and then extended until September 15.

The EU decided on September 15 to lift the ban after Ukraine promised to take measures to tighten control over exports to neighboring countries. But the same day Poland, Hungary and Slovakia imposed unilateral bans on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products. In addition to wheat barley, rapeseed and sunflower seeds, Poland banned imports of groats and flour from Ukraine, while Hungary expanded its list of banned imports to 25 items.