Original Author: The New York Times
Ukraine said on Monday it was filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization against Poland, Slovakia and Hungary after the three countries broke with the rest of the European Union to ban imports of Ukrainian grain.
The countries instituted their bans over the weekend, saying they were necessary to protect their own farmers, who had complained that cheap grain from Ukraine — one of the world’s largest exporters — had inadvertently flooded their own markets, pushing down prices. Hoping to quell the unrest, the European Union had temporarily banned Ukrainian agriculture imports in some countries, including the three that later imposed their own bans in the hours after the European Union ban expired.
Ukrainian officials have protested the new bans, saying they threatened solidarity within the bloc and forced further losses on Ukraine’s suffering exporters.
“It is crucially important for us to prove that individual member states cannot ban imports of Ukrainian goods,” Ukraine’s economy minister, Yulia Svyrydenko, said in a statement on Monday. She added that Ukraine needed “solidarity with them and protection of farmers’ interests.”
Although Ms. Svyrydenko’s statement announced that Ukraine had already filed its complaint, a spokesman for the World Trade Organization said he was not aware of any filing on the matter having arrived on Monday.
Ukraine’s grain exports halted in the immediate aftermath of the Russian invasion, but some exports resumed last year via the Black Sea under an agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey. Russia pulled out of the deal in July, once more raising the importance of overland export routes for Ukraine.
Despite Ukraine’s overtures to the W.T.O., Poland intends to stand by the ban and believes it is justified to defend the interests of Polish farmers, a spokesman for the Polish government, Piotr Muller, told the Polish state news agency PAP on Monday.
Other Ukrainian allies in the bloc denounced the bans. Germany’s agriculture minister, Cem Ozdemir, criticized what he called “part-time solidarity” with Ukraine.
The French agriculture minister, Marc Fesneau, said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the unilateral measures “threaten our collective efforts to preserve global food security.”
Nataliia Novosolova and Steven Moity contributed translation.