Poland and Ukraine attempt to resolve grain dispute29 Sep 2023
Poland and Ukraine have begun talks to try to resolve a dispute regarding the ban on Kyiv’s grain imports that prompted Kyiv to file a lawsuit to the World Trade Organization.
In a statement, minister of agrarian policy and food of Ukraine Mykola Solsky said he had spoken to his Polish counterpart, Robert Telus, on Thursday in an attempt to “find a solution that takes into account the interests of both countries”.
Solsky added that the next negotiations would take place in the coming days, during which the issues will be discussed by both sides. The Polish side would also study the Ukrainian export plan and prepare its proposals.
“We are always ready for talks, but the interest of the Polish farmer is always the most important for us,” responded Telus.
“That's why I'm glad that Ukraine has finally started talking to us. With us, not with Germany or the European Union over our heads.”
Poland, Hungary and Slovakia continue to uphold grain ban
The talks are a positive step in the current stalemate that has seen Poland, Hungary and Slovakia ban imports of Ukrainian grain despite the lifting of an EU-wide ban by the European Commission on 15th September.
In response, Kyiv filed a lawsuit at the World Trade Organization, in protest at the “violation of its international obligations by the three EU countries,” according to Ukraine’s first deputy prime minister and minister of the economy, Yuliya Svyridenko.
“It is fundamentally important for us to prove that individual member states cannot ban the import of Ukrainian goods,” she said. “We need solidarity with them and protection of farmers' interests.”
Svyridenko added that because of the ban, domestic exporters were suffering significant losses due to downtime, additional costs, and the impossibility of fulfilling foreign economic agreements.
On Wednesday (20th Sept) Poland signalled its intention to stop supplying weapons to Kyiv, instead opting to arming itself in an apparent withdrawal of support from the once-staunch ally.
“We are no longer transferring weapons to Ukraine, because we are now arming Poland with more modern weapons,” said Morawiecki on Polish television, as reported by European Pravda.
"If you don't want to be on the defensive, you have to have something to defend yourself with," he added, adding that the actions would not endanger Ukraine's security.
Romania and Bulgaria did not introduce national grain bans
In another statement on Tuesday, the deputy minister of economy and trade representative, Taras Kachka, revealed that Romania and Bulgaria responded favourably to plans submitted the day before:
“On Monday, we presented our plan to control the export of agricultural products to all neighbouring states. We have very good feedback from Romania and Bulgaria, which reacted quite positively and did not introduce national bans,” Kachka added.
© AdobeStock/Sergey Chayko
“The other three countries, including Poland, are also already giving positive signals regarding their readiness to consider the mechanism proposed by Ukraine."
Signs of a grain ban breakthrough
According to the minister, Ukraine had proposed to introduce a “mechanism” for joint verification and approval of the supply of four types of agricultural goods (wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds) to five EU countries.
"This will not solve the problem completely,” he said. “The Ukrainian proposal can become the basis for solving the issue of export of agricultural products to five EU countries.
“The Polish side has already declared that it is ready to work on solving this problem. I believe that by the end of the week, we will be able to reach a certain compromise.”
Kachka reiterated that it was important for both Poland and Ukraine to develop cooperation, trade, agriculture and take care of the interests of each other's farmers, and not just react to public criticism.
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