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Ukraine files complaint with WTO as grain ban continues

Hungary, Poland, Slovakia continue to complain about a grain glut from Ukraine hitting their domestic prices.

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On September 18, Ukraine said it will file a complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over measures taken by Poland, Slovakia and Hungary to continue imposing restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports.

According to reports, Ukraine is weighing retaliatory measures as the dispute with its neighboring allies escalates.

In May, the European Union allowed Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia to ban domestic sales of Ukrainian wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower seeds while allowing transit through them for export elsewhere, including to other EU countries until June 5. The import restriction was later extended to September 15. At the time of the extension, the European Commission said bottlenecks and scarce storage capacity remained and the mid-September phaseout would allow for improvements in getting grain out of Ukraine and through the transit countries.

Reuters noted the EU allowed the ban to expire on Friday after Ukraine pledged to take measures, such as export licensing, to tighten controls to neighboring countries. The EU said there was no reason to prolong the ban because the distortions in supply that led to the ban in May had disappeared from the market.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomed the EU's decision not to further extend the ban on its grain exports, but said his government would react "in civilized fashion" if EU member states broke EU rules.

Poland, Hungary, Slovakia introduce own bans on Ukraine grains

Reuters reported on Friday that Poland, Slovakia and Hungary had announced their own restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports after the executive European Commission decided not to extend its ban on imports into Ukraine's five EU neighbors.

  • Poland's ban covers four cereals and meals from corn, wheat and rapeseed.
  • Hungary's ban includes 24 Ukrainian agricultural products, including grains, vegetables, several meat products and honey.
  • Slovakia's agriculture minister followed suit announcing its own grain ban.

All three bans only apply to domestic imports and do not affect transit to onward markets.

Romania said it would wait for Ukraine's plan to prevent a surge of imports to see how it would protect its farmers. Hungary scrapped the curbs on September 14.

The EU has urged Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia to be constructive on Ukraine grain. Spain's agriculture minister told Reuters a unilateral ban by any European Union member state on Ukrainian grain looks illegal.

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