“Unilateral actions are not acceptable”, says Minister of Agriculture Sari Essayah about threats from Eastern European countries to block Ukraine’s grain imports.
Other EU countries harshly criticized the intentions of three Eastern European countries to impose an import ban on Ukrainian grain after the temporary import ban agreed at the EU level expired on Friday. The EU agriculture ministers discussed the dispute between Ukraine and Poland, Hungary and Slovakia on Monday at their meeting in Brussels.
“In my speech, I strongly emphasized that trade agreements, internal market rules and international trade rules must be followed in such a situation. Unilateral actions are not acceptable”, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Sari Essayah (kd) said after the meeting.
“My speech was very similar to that of many other countries.”
Ukrainian grain exports to five Eastern European countries, i.e. Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania, were banned by a joint decision of the EU in May after the countries had complained that cheap Ukrainian grain was driving farmers into distress. Ukraine had to direct grain exports to Europe after its main export route, the Black Sea, was closed due to Russia’s military actions.
The temporary import ban expired on September 15, and the Commission did not consider there to be grounds for extending the ban. To alleviate the concerns of neighboring countries, Ukraine promised to limit grain exports to them with a license system.
However, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia announced that they would continue the import ban through a unilateral decision, and Hungary also announced that it would extend the ban to new product groups. The Romanian government announced that it will impose a temporary import ban if grain imports from Ukraine increase.
“There is no certainty yet whether these bans will be implemented or whether this will remain at the level of talk,” says Essayah.
“There’s a bit of a trickle-down phase going on here. Let’s see who will back down.”
Of any kind The EU countries did not take action against Eastern European countries on Monday, but the situation will continue to be monitored. If the countries implement the import bans, the matter will then be in the hands of the commission, says Essayah. The Commission monitors compliance with EU legislation.
In the EU, trade policy is the competence of the Commission. Spanish Minister of Agriculture Luis Planas Puchades assesses the news agency Reuters that unilateral import bans seem illegal.
Ukraine said on Monday that it will take the actions of Poland, Hungary and Slovakia to the World Trade Organization’s WTO dispute settlement body.