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Ministry: Ukraine, Slovakia agree on grain trade system to replace ban

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 21, 2023 3:11 PM 2 min read
A pile of maize grains is seen on the pier at the Izmail Sea Port, Odesa Oblast, on July 22, 2023. (Photo by Stringer/ AFP via Getty Images)
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Ukraine and Slovakia have agreed to create a licensing system for their grain trade, which could lift Slovakia’s import ban on certain Ukrainian products, the Slovak Agriculture Ministry told Reuters on Sept. 21.

Until the system is set up and tested, Slovakia’s embargo on Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed, and sunflower seed will remain in place, the ministry said in a statement. The ban was approved until the end of the year.

According to the ministry, Ukraine also agreed to drop the lawsuit against Slovakia at the World Trade Organization. However, Kyiv hasn’t officially announced this decision.

Ukraine's Trade Representative Taras Kachka said on Sept. 18 that Kyiv would sue Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary over their refusal to lift the import ban on four said categories of Ukrainian products despite the EU's decision to end the four-month embargo.

The report comes a day after Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskyi and his Slovak counterpart Jozef Bíreš held an online meeting on Ukraine’s action plan for exporting Ukrainian agricultural products proposed to the European Commission.

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Commenting on the meeting, Ukraine’s Agricultural Ministry said that Bratislava deemed Kyiv’s proposal acceptable, adding that the two sides agreed to coordinate the situation and maintain constructive relations between the countries. The report didn’t mention the fate of Ukraine’s WTO complaint against Slovakia.

Solskyi also discussed the action plan with his Polish and Hungarian counterparts, but no decisions have been agreed.

The EU instituted the import ban on select agricultural products from Ukraine in May at the request of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria, who feared that the influx of cheaper Ukrainian products would put pressure on their farmers. The measure was still permitting the transit of these products through the five countries for exports elsewhere.

Following the expiration of the measure on Sept. 15, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary continued restrictions on the national level, ​​while Romania prolonged the ban for 30 days until it could clear out precise licensing rules on grain imports.

Seeking to lift the restrictions, Ukraine proposed to the EU that it would implement a system of permits to manage grain export.

Polish minister: Grain disputes undermine Polish public support for Ukraine aid
Polish European Affairs Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk said that Kyiv’s steps in the ongoing grain import dispute undermine Polish public support for aid for Ukraine, as the Polish Press Agency reported on Sept. 20.
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