Sat, 02 Dec 2023

Ukraine reiterates threat to EU states
18 Sep 2023, 20:32 GMT+10

An imminent WTO complaint may be supplemented by a ban of Polish products, a senior official has said

Kiev may sue Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia in the World Trade Organization (WTO) as soon as Monday over their bans on the import of grain from Ukraine, according to its trade representative, Taras Kachka. Retaliatory unilateral restrictions are also on the table, he told Politico.

In particular, Ukraine may prohibit the import of fruits and vegetables from Poland, since Warsaw not only kept the previous restrictions in place, but also added new ones, the official said on Sunday.

In May, the three nations plus Romania and Bulgaria convinced the EU to agree to a temporary ban of Ukrainian grain from their domestic markets. The measure expired last Friday, but three of the five reimposed domestic protectionist measures.

Poland and Hungary expanded their lists of banned goods, which Kachka called "ridiculous." He described Budapest's doubling down as largely symbolic, unlike Warsaw's ban of flour and feed, which will have significant consequences for Ukrainian producers. A retaliation against Polish fruits and vegetables will follow unless the country reconsiders the move, the official warned.

Kachka accused the three defiant states of disrespecting Brussels and eroding global trust in the EU leadership's ability to govern the bloc. Suing them in the WTO is meant to show the world that "these actions are legally wrong," he said. He also claimed that the Polish government cannot protect its farmers from Ukrainian competition because "prices are global."

The EU lifted tariffs and quotas on Ukrainian goods last year to support its war effort against Russia. The influx of cheap products into the neighboring states depressed prices and sparked mass protests by local farmers. Brussels legalized their national bans and offered compensation for damages.

Last week, Polish Agriculture Minister Robert Telus indicated that Warsaw would block Ukraine's bid for membership in the EU unless the conflict is resolved.

Poland had to meet "stringent conditions" when it joined the EU, and the same should apply to Ukraine, he said in an interview with Radio Plus. Under the current rules, Polish farmers cannot compete against their Ukrainian counterparts, he said.

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