Ukraine to ban vegetables, fruits from Poland in response to grain ban
Photo: EPA

Ukraine will ban the imports of fruit and vegetables from Poland in response to Warsaw’s decision to unilaterally extend the ban on grain imports from Ukraine despite the European commission’s decision, Ukraine’s trade representative Taras Kachka told Politico.

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The EU’s executive arm decided last week to lift the temporary measures that had restricted the free exports of Ukrainian wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower to Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary since May.

Three of them—Poland, Hungary and Slovakia—refused to comply, arguing that they needed to protect their farmers from a surge in exports from Ukraine, following Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea.

In response, Ukraine is going to file a complaint against them with the World Trade Organisation.

"It is important to prove that these actions are legally wrong. And that’s why we will start legal proceedings tomorrow [on Monday]," Mr Kachka said Sunday evening.

The Ukrainian official 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.

"I think that all the world should see how member states in the EU behave towards trade partners and their own Union, because it can influence other states as well," he said.

While Slovakia simply extended the EU’s previous ban on four types of grain, Poland imposed additional bans on Ukrainian flour and feed over the weekend, and Hungary banned an additional 25 products that had not been discussed before, including meat.

"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," Mr Kachka told Politico.

While Hungary’s additional bans are mostly symbolic, given that Ukraine does not export much beef or pork to the country, Poland’s measures will affect a significant part of Ukraine’s exports, and Ukraine "would be forced to retaliate on the additional products, and would prohibit the import of fruit and vegetables from Poland," the official added.