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Ukraine to sue Poland, Hungary, Slovakia on produce bans

September 18, 2023

Kyiv said its plans were in response to unilateral bans announced by the three states after an EU ban expired. The trio argue they are protecting their local markets, while Ukraine says the ban is "legally wrong."

Rows of sprouting corn in fields somewhere in Ukraine
Ukraine will complain about the EU trio's unilateral ban on its agricultural produceImage: Olena Mykhaylova/Zoonar/picture alliance

Ukraine intends to sue European neighbors Poland, Hungary and Slovakia over unilateral bans they announced on Ukrainian agricultural products, after the European Union allowed bloc-wide restrictions to expire.

Ukrainian officials said Kyiv would lodge its official compliant to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Officials relayed the news to various outlets, including Politico and news agencies Bloomberg and Reuters.

"I think [it will be] in the near future,"  Agriculture Minister Mykola Solsky told Reuters.

The unilateral bans were announced on Friday.

Warsaw, Budapest and Bratislava argue that the measure was necessary to protect their local markets.

Kyiv is meanwhile concerned for a key source of revenue, which has become even more essential after Moscow pulled out of the Black Sea grain deal last July. The deal allowed Ukraine to export grains via the Black Sea amid the conflict.

What did Ukraine say?

Deputy Economy Minister and Ukrainian Trade Representative Taras Kachka told Bloomberg that Ukraine was planning on filing its complaint with the World Trade Organization on Monday.

He added that Kyiv was also considering retaliatory measures on some food products from the three countries, unless they reversed their decision by Friday. The measures could impact onions and apples from Poland and cars from Hungary, Bloomberg reported.

"It is important to prove that these actions are legally wrong. And that's why we will start legal proceedings tomorrow," Politico quoted Ukrainian Trade Representative Taras Kachka as saying on Sunday.

What was the EU ban?

Last May, the EU imposed restrictions on the domestic sales of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower seeds. The restrictions allowed Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to ban the products' sale.

However, the products were permitted to transit via the five countries for export elsewhere, but the bans have slowed such movement.

On Friday, the EU allowed the ban to expire, after Kyiv vowed to take measures to tighten control of exports to neighboring countries.

Ukraine was ready to "take on the responsibility to ensure that export from Ukraine is not creating any tsunami in neighboring countries," Kachka said. He added that Kyiv would impose a system of "real time" export licenses for grains.

Three EU countries ban imports of Ukrainian grain

rmt/rc (Reuters)