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Trade chief: Ukraine to sue Poland, Hungary and Slovakia over agricultural restrictions

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 18, 2023 4:19 PM 2 min read
An agricultural worker unloads cereals from a combine during a harvest on Aug. 30, 2023 in Chernihiv Oblast. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
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Kyiv will sue Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia over their refusal to lift a ban on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products, Ukraine's Trade Representative Taras Kachka told Politico in an interview published on Sept. 18.

Kachka said that Ukraine would start legal proceedings "to prove that these actions are legally wrong."

Earlier in May, the EU imposed restrictions that allowed Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria to ban the domestic sale of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed, and sunflower seed, while still permitting the transit of these products for exports elsewhere.

The nations requested the measure due to complaints from local farmers that cheap Ukrainian imports were driving down agriculture prices.

While the EU decided not to extend the ban beyond Sept. 15 after Kyiv pledged to take action to tighten export controls to neighboring countries, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary continued restrictions on Ukrainian agricultural products.

Romanian farmer association asks country to ban Ukrainian grain imports after EU restrictions lifted
Romanian farmers asked the government to unilaterally ban Ukrainian grain imports after EU restrictions on overland export were lifted.

In the interview, Kachka said that Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia going against a European Commission decision is not just an internal matter for the EU, but the “the biggest systemic concern” of whether international trade partners can trust Brussels speaks on behalf of the union.

According to Politico, Ukraine plans to sue the countries at the World Trade Organization rather than through its own trade agreement with the EU. "I think that all the world should see how member states in the EU behave towards trade partners and their own Union because it can influence other states as well," said Kachka.

Ukraine’s grain overload sours country’s relationship with key allies
Negotiations over a European import ban on Ukrainian grain between the European Commission and its eastern flank members were stalled as of April 23. Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria asked to extend protection measures after the EU’s one-year decision to abolish customs duties, whil…

While Slovakia simply prolonged the earlier EU ban on the four groups of goods, Poland introduced additional restrictions on Ukrainian flour and feed, Politico wrote. Hungary went even further, adding 25 more products to the ban list, including meat.

"These arbitrary prohibitions are ridiculous," Kachka said. "I think that Hungary here is making a political statement that it wants to block trade with Ukraine and as well disregard Brussels completely."

The official added that if Poland doesn't abandon the additional restrictions, Ukraine "would be forced to retaliate... and would prohibit the import of fruit and vegetables from Poland."

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