Ukraine has called on the EU countries to end the imposed import blockade of agricultural products to five neighboring EU countries. The scheme expires on June 5. Ukrainian Minister of Agriculture and Food Supply Mykola Solskyi hinted in Brussels on Tuesday that Kyiv would go to the WTO with a complaint if necessary.
That temporary import ban was imposed by the European Commission after Poland and Romania began a border blockade to protect their own agricultural sector against an overflow of Ukrainian imports. Brussels promised farmers in those countries compensation and 'legalised' the blockade of Ukrainian agricultural products. Whether that is allowed is doubted by some lawyers.
Thirteen EU countries, including the Netherlands, had asked Agriculture Commissioner Wojciechowski for clarification. This actually included all major agri-exporting countries.
Using figures on imports and exports for 2021 and 2022, Agriculture Commissioner Wojciechowski tried to show that Ukrainian 'exports' to Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria have increased 'disproportionately', and that the complaints in those countries – so – there was a lot to say.
Solskyi said his country is doing everything it can to make transit through neighboring countries as smooth as possible. He said to wait the EU for the next week and see if things improve in early June. In that case, extension after June 5 may not be possible.
The Ukrainian minister has asked to wait for progress to be made and while he has assured that he prefers to avoid "more difficult situations", he does not rule out the possibility of resorting to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“This is not the way,” the Ukrainian minister assured the EU-LNV ministers. He pointed out that Russia is still trying in all kinds of ways to hinder Ukrainian exports via the Black Sea.
In line with Solskyi, the ministers of 13 EU countries have expressed “serious concern” over the import ban on imports of maize, wheat, rapeseed and sunflower from Ukraine. They believe that this “leads to differential treatment within the internal market”.
Agriculture Commissioner Wojciechowski said that the European Commission is not prepared to withdraw the measures now because that would cause major (storage) problems in the five neighboring countries. Harvests are expected in those countries, which also have to be processed, transported and sold. He did say that the European Commission is prepared to review the situation in October.