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Slovakia to extend, expand ban on Ukrainian agricultural products

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 29, 2023 8:22 PM 2 min read
An agricultural worker unload cereals from a combine as workers harvest a large field of barley near the border with Russia in the Chernihiv region on Aug. 30, 2023. (Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
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The Slovak government plans to extend and expand the ban on Ukrainian agricultural products, according to an Agriculture Ministry proposal that was approved on Nov. 29.

The government is set to add honey, barley, wheat flour, soybeans, and cane or beet sugar to the list of banned agricultural products.

The ban previously applied to four cereals, namely wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds, and will remain in place until the end of 2023.

The Slovak Agriculture Minister "will update this list if necessary, justified by the development of the market situation," the resolution stated.

The resolution says the ban is necessary due to the "absence of a systemic pan-European solution and the unilateral bans of two neighboring countries," referring to Poland and Hungary.

Ukraine and Slovakia agreed on Sept. 21 to create a licensing system for their grain trade, which raised hopes Slovakia's import ban on Ukrainian agricultural products could be lifted.

Robert Fico's SMER party then won the parliamentary elections on Sept. 30 on a populist platform that promised to cut back on support to Ukraine, including the immediate end to all military aid.

The EU initially instituted the import ban on select agricultural products from Ukraine in May 2023 at the request of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria, who feared that the influx of cheaper Ukrainian products would pressure their farmers.

The measure still permitted 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, leading to a diplomatic dispute on the issue.

In response, Kyiv said it would sue the three countries over the import ban at the World Trade Organization but later said the complaint had been put on hold.

Kyiv wants to find a "constructive solution (on agricultural imports) within the framework of the entire EU,"  Ukraine's Trade Representative Taras Kachka told reporters on Oct. 5.

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