Ukraine plans WTO action against Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia over their refusal to drop a ban on the import of Ukrainian agricultural products.

“It is important to prove that these actions are legally wrong. And that’s why we will start legal proceedings tomorrow,” Deputy Minister of Economy, Ukraine’s Trade Representative Taras Kachka told POLITICO’s Brussels Playbook in an interview Sunday evening.

Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia said they would impose their own bans on Ukrainian grain following the Commission’s decision to end its restrictions.

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“In our eyes, these measures of Hungary and Poland is a statement of total distrust to the European Commission,” the official said.

He argued that the open defiance against Brussels by Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia was not just an internal matter for the EU, but raised what he called “the biggest systemic concern” — whether international trade partners can trust that Brussels speaks for the EU.

“For many years, it’s been the European Commission who is the trade negotiator and trade policy institution for the whole EU. And we used to work on this basis… The systemic approach of Budapest and Warsaw of ignoring the position of the EU institutions in trade policy, I think that will be a problem for the EU in general because there is no unity there,” Kachka noted.

He believes that these arbitrary prohibitions “are ridiculous.”

“I think that Hungary here is making a political statement that it wants to block trade with Ukraine and as well disregard Brussels completely. And that’s why I think that this is a very bold movement against both of us from Budapest,” the deputy economy minister said.

According to him, the action at the World Trade Organisation will show the whole world “how member states in the EU behave towards trade partners and their own Union because it can influence other states as well.”

At the same time, Kachka said Kyiv was ready to take on the responsibility to ensure that export from Ukraine “is not creating any tsunami in neighbouring countries” and would impose a system of “real time” export licenses for grains.

As a reminder, the ban on the import of maize, wheat, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds from Ukraine to Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia expired on 15 September 2023.

The European Commission canceled restrictions on the import of grains from Ukraine to Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia. At the same time, Warsaw, Budapest, and Bratislava announced that they would extend the ban on the import of Ukrainian grains.

Bohdan Marusyak

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