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Ukraine sues EU neighbors over food imports ban

September 18, 2023
Grain being collected during a harvest near Kyiv, Ukraine. In this file photo. — courtesy EPA
Grain being collected during a harvest near Kyiv, Ukraine. In this file photo. — courtesy EPA

KYIV — Ukraine has filed lawsuits to the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Slovakia, Poland and Hungary over their bans on food imports from Kyiv.

It said such restrictions were a violation of international obligations by Ukraine’s EU neighbors.

They say the bans are needed to protect their farmers from cheap imports.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year all but closed the main Black Sea shipping lanes, with large grain quantities ending up in central Europe.

“It is crucially important for us to prove that individual member states cannot ban imports of Ukrainian goods,” Ukrainian Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said in a statement on Monday.

“That is why we are filing lawsuits against them [Slovakia, Poland and Hungary] to the WTO.”

She added that Ukrainian exporters had “already suffered and are continuing to suffer significant losses” because of the unilateral bans.

Poland said it would maintain its ban regardless.

“We maintain our position, we think it is correct, it results from an economic analysis and powers derived from EU and international law,” said government spokesman Piotr Mueller.

“A complaint before the WTO doesn’t impress us.”

Last Friday, the European Commission — the EU’s executive body — decided not to extend a ban agreed earlier this year on Ukraine’s grain imports into Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

The Commission has repeatedly stated that it is not up to individual EU members to make trade policy for the 27-strong bloc.

But the governments in Budapest, Warsaw and Bratislava defied the Commission’s move, announcing their national restrictions. — BBC


September 18, 2023
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