Ukraine turns to WTO over grain import dispute

Imports and Exports | | MIC Customs Solutions |

Ukraine has turned to the WTO to help resolve a dispute over grain imports with three EU countries.

Ukraine has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Poland, Hungary and Slovakia after they continued to block grain imports, despite the lifting of an EU-wide ban earlier this month.

Brussels had initially placed restrictions on Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed, and sunflower seed products earlier this year after exports via the Black Sea were impacted by the war with Russia. This has led to large amounts of grain entering European markets, driving down prices for local producers in the east of the bloc.

Although the EU ended its ban on September 15th, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia opted to continue unilaterally imposing their own restrictions, despite this going against the principle that trade policy is determined at the EU level.

Ukraine described these actions as an unacceptable “violation of international obligations”. In a statement, the country's economy minister Yulia Svyrydenko said: “It is fundamentally important for us to prove that individual member states may not ban the import of Ukrainian goods. At the same time, we hope that these countries will lift their restrictions and we will not have to settle the matter in court."

Ms Svyrydenko also claimed that the actions of the three countries have already led to domestic exporters suffering significant losses due to downtime, additional costs and an inability to fulfill foreign economic agreements.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal warned in a message on Telegram that Kyiv is prepared to impose retaliatory measures if the bans are not lifted.

The dispute over grain has already spilled over into other areas, with Poland this week announcing it will stop supplying Kyiv with weapons. Prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has also threatened to extend the import ban to more products if Ukraine escalates the grain dispute.

A spokesperson for the country's foreign ministry also added: "Putting pressure on Poland in multilateral forums or sending complaints to international courts are not appropriate methods to resolve differences between our countries."