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Ukraine will complain to WTO if Poland enacts new grain ban

KYIV – Ukraine is prepared to file a complaint at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) if Poland introduces a unilateral ban on Ukrainian grain, said Deputy Economy Minister Taras Kachka. 

“The Polish market is not critical for us. What is critically important is to remove restrictions,” Mr Kachka said in an interview with Bloomberg. 

Kyiv sees the Polish government’s position as having been driven by domestic politics or as “simply a mistake”, and is prepared for an extended procedure at the WTO, he said. 

The main thing for Ukraine is to find its own routes to export commodities by sea, he added. 

Ukraine has become more reliant on export channels through its European Union neighbours, especially after President Vladimir Putin in July pulled Russia out of a year-old deal that allowed exports via Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

Poland introduced a ban on incoming shipments from Ukraine in April which was followed by measures in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria in response to complaints from their own farmers. 

The EU sought to diffuse the spat with a measure that allows Ukrainian grain to transit through the five countries.

That arrangement expires on Friday.

Poland has urged the EU to extend it – and failing that may impose its own new, unilateral ban. 

The import restrictions sought by Poland and the other EU members are a rare point of friction between Ukraine and some of its strongest backers against Russia’s invasion.

“For the sake of security we are working on our own corridor, and it has already been tested, and I think it will work normally, without Russia,” Mr Kachka said.

Once Russia started to actively attack Ukraine’s ports and commodity stockpiles, the agreement negotiated by the UN and Turkey in 2022 became obsolete, he said. 

Mr Kachka forecast that Ukraine’s export of agriculture products, including grains, oilseeds, sunflower oil and sunflower meal, will be more than 60 million tonnes in the 2023-2024 season, compared with 68 million tonnes a year earlier. BLOOMBERG

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