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Ukraine’s Grain: Ukraine Files Formal Complaint With the World Trade Organization

Ukrainian grain exports have been causing quite a stir in Europe for the last few months. In May 2023 several countries protested the European Commission to restrict Ukrainian grain from being imported into their countries. This is because grain intended to be exported to areas like Africa and the Middle East was being sold domestically once hitting ports in countries like Poland; undercutting local farmers and placing them in danger of losing their grain in storage. This has been a tough position for these neighboring countries to be in, most acknowledge that they support Ukraine, but cannot place their own countries at risk of economic strain. Recently, Ukraine has filed a formal complaint against Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia with the World Trade Organization, saying that the bans on Ukrainian grain are inconsistent with provisions under the 1994 WTO General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and the Agreement on Agriculture.

A complaint was filed individually for each country, with Ukraine more-or-less asserting the same point across every country. Ukraine says the measures imposed by these countries violate the two agreements because of the following:

  1. They prohibit or restrict the importation of agricultural goods from Ukraine.
  2. They restrict freedom of transit of Ukrainian goods through each country to other EU states.
  3. The measures were not published promptly enough to allow Ukraine and traders to become acquainted with them.
  4. The measures are a ban instead of a duty and are discriminatory as they only apply to Ukrainian imports and not other WTO Members’ imports.

Shortly after these complaints were filed, Poland’s Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, announced that Poland would not be part of any new arms deals for Ukraine, only the previous agreements would be fulfilled. This decision appears to have been made as a result of the grain situation as well as pressure from various political parties in Poland; stemming from upcoming elections on October 15th, 2023.

Emotions are running high in the EU, Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s recent comment that countries placing restrictions on Ukrainian grain could be working on Russia’s behalf. However, while emotions may be high on the surface, the Ukrainian and Polish agricultural ministers are working to provide a solution that accounts for both countries’ needs.

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Contributor: Robert J. Freeman


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