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19 Sep, 2023 11:19

EU reacts to Ukraine's grain lawsuit

Agriculture commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski says the bloc will take appropriate measures in response to Kiev's WTO complaint
EU reacts to Ukraine's grain lawsuit

European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski has said he was surprised by Ukraine’s decision to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. The three EU states broke ranks with Brussels by refusing to lift embargoes on the import of Ukrainian agricultural products.

“I was quite surprised that Ukraine chose this path, given the enormous efforts that the Member States have made so far,” said Wojciechowski, speaking at a press conference in Brussels on Monday. 

He said that it would be “very easy” to show that Kiev had not suffered any damage to its grain export volumes, adding that despite the embargo by the three EU states, Ukraine’s grain shipments have increased.

Nevertheless, the commissioner stressed that he hopes the EU and Ukraine will be able to resolve the issue “through dialogue and mutual agreement” and that he remains “optimistic” that such dialogue will take place. He also noted that Brussels does not currently intend to introduce any sanctions against the countries that have retained import bans on Ukrainian grain.

Wojciechowski’s comments come after Kiev announced on Monday that it will sue Poland, Hungary and Slovakia in the WTO over their unilateral grain bans, and in turn, will consider retaliatory trade restrictions.

The three countries chose to keep their embargoes in place despite Brussels opting to lift restrictions on Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower shipments last week. Officials in Budapest, Warsaw and Bratislava have argued that cheap Ukrainian agricultural products undercut domestic prices and threaten the livelihoods of local farmers. 

Kiev, however, has warned that it will sue any EU country that decides to ban its grain in contravention of decisions made in Brussels. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has stressed that it is “important to make sure European unity works on a bilateral level” and that “neighbors support Ukraine” in the conflict with Russia.