Ukraine Files WTO Complaint Against Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia Over Food Import Bans

Ukraine Files WTO Complaint Against Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia Over Food Import Bans

Ukraine has lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia over their recent bans on Ukrainian grain and other food products. The move further intensifies the political tensions between Ukraine and these European Union (EU) member states. The bans, which aim to protect local farmers from a supply surplus that drives down prices, were implemented after the EU lifted restrictions on Ukraine’s exports to five member states. Croatia has also joined the ban, although all four countries will still allow the movement of these products to regions suffering from food shortages.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal criticized these “unfriendly” actions and has called for an investigation into possible discriminatory practices. Shmyhal also proposed a potential compromise scenario that would focus on controlling four specific categories of exported agricultural products in order to mitigate market distortions in neighboring countries. The standoff between Ukraine and the EU member states is causing divisions within the EU itself as political parties seek farmers’ support ahead of upcoming elections in Slovakia and Poland.

Hungary’s political director, Balazs Orban, described the EU’s decision to lift the import ban as “totally unacceptable” and claimed that their countries had no choice but to defend their own farmers. Poland, a strong ally of Ukraine, warned that without public backing, it would be difficult to continue offering support to Ukraine. Germany’s Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir criticized the lack of solidarity with Ukraine from these countries, stating that Russian President Vladimir Putin was the only beneficiary of EU discord.

In response to the bans, Ukraine is preparing retaliatory measures. Deputy Trade Minister Taras Kachka announced that Ukraine would introduce a ban on certain Polish farming produce, including onions, tomatoes, cabbage, and apples. This standoff comes at a crucial time when Ukraine is grappling with the task of getting its agricultural products to global markets while facing economic challenges caused by Russia’s aggression.

Ukraine’s WTO complaint triggers a 60-day period of consultations with Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, wherein, if unsuccessful, Ukraine may request a panel of adjudicators to intervene. However, given the current logjam at the WTO due to the lack of appointed judges, other countries, including EU members, have joined an alternative appeals process that could potentially provide a final resolution to the Ukrainian case.

Associated Press
– Ukrainian deputy trade minister Taras Kachka

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