- Hans Weber
- December 4, 2023
Kiev Takes Grain Import Dispute with Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary to WTO
Kiev has escalated its dispute with Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary over the embargo on Ukrainian grain imports by taking the matter to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The Ukrainian Ministry of Economy and Trade released a statement confirming this action, following the decision by these Central European countries to continue the grain embargo despite the European Commission officially lifting it last Friday.
The embargo, initially imposed by the European Commission in May of this year, also affected Romania and Bulgaria but officially ended recently. However, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary opted to persist with the embargo, citing concerns about competition for their own farmers and potential challenges arising from an influx of low-priced Ukrainian agricultural crops.
Taras Kachka, Ukraine’s deputy minister for economy and trade, emphasized the importance of addressing what Ukraine considers to be an unlawful action, stating, “It is important to show that this action (by Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary) is legally incorrect. That’s why we will initiate legal proceedings tomorrow (Monday).” He added that Kiev was preparing to implement retaliatory measures targeting fruit and vegetable imports from Poland.
Kiev has consistently argued that the embargo is in violation of the terms of the association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, as well as the principles of the EU’s single market. Ukrainian officials have contended that their country’s grain imports do not pose a significant threat to Central European farmers and have suggested that the embargo inadvertently benefits Russia, a major grain exporter, while continuing its aggression against Ukraine.
Additionally, Kiev accused the Polish government of engaging in populism with its decision to maintain the embargo. Poland is currently in the midst of campaigning for parliamentary elections scheduled for October 15, and farmers represent a substantial voting bloc for Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. Poland was the first country to announce its intention to continue the ban on Ukrainian grain imports last week.
The dispute underscores the complex interplay of trade, politics, and domestic interests within the context of regional and international agreements and obligations. The involvement of the WTO adds another layer to this ongoing disagreement between Ukraine and its Central European neighbors.
Article by Prague Forum