Kiev has taken its dispute with Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary over the ongoing embargo on Ukrainian grain imports to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). According to a statement released by the Ukrainian Ministry of Economy and Trade, Reuters reported on the development. The embargo, which was initially imposed by the European Commission on these Central European countries, along with Romania and Bulgaria, in May of this year, officially ended last Friday.
However, Bratislava, Budapest, and Warsaw decided to persist with the embargo despite the European Commission’s decision to lift it on Friday. These countries justified their stance by expressing concerns about competition for their own farmers, who they believed would face challenges from the influx of low-priced agricultural crops from Ukraine.
Taras Kachka, Ukraine’s deputy minister for economy and trade, stated, “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 also mentioned that Kiev was preparing to implement retaliatory measures affecting fruit and vegetable imports from Poland.
Earlier, Kiev had deemed the decision to continue the embargo as unlawful. Oleh Nikolenko, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, argued that the embargo violated the terms of the association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. Furthermore, he contended that it ran counter to the principles of the EU’s single market.
Nikolenko also pointed out that Ukrainian imports did not pose a significant threat to Central European farmers and suggested that the embargo played into the hands of Russia, which continued its aggression against Ukraine and remained a major grain exporter.
Moreover, Kiev accused the Polish government of engaging in populism regarding its decision to persist with the embargo. Poland is currently in the midst of campaigning for parliamentary elections scheduled for October 15. Farmers constitute a significant voting bloc for Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. Warsaw was the first to announce its intention to maintain the ban on Ukrainian grain imports last week.