Agri-exports: Ukraine at odds with EU neighbours

Ukraine has said it will sue Poland, Hungary and Slovakia before the World Trade Organisation on the grounds that the refusal of these countries’ to lift restrictions on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products, announced last Friday, is illegal. Brussels has allowed restrictions imposed in May to help individual EU states take measures to protect their markets against cheap food imports from Ukraine to expire.

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

At pains to avoid a split

The US will want to avoid the West’s united stance being weakened by such disputes, Corriere della Sera explains:

“On the issue of Ukrainian wheat there is a conflict within the European Commission, which on Friday ordered the lifting of export restrictions on Ukrainian grain to Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. However, three of these countries (Poland, Hungary and Slovakia) refused to lift the restrictions, whereupon Kyiv announced that it would sue them before the World Trade Organisation. The Americans, however, do not want the European front to be split.”

Viviana Mazza
Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

Humans aren’t angels

The decision to open the EU market for Ukrainian grain was rash, says Tygodnik Powszechny:

“The original sin was the EU’s decision after 24 February 2022 to [de facto] integrate Ukraine into the EU market overnight without transitional periods in the agricultural sector — a decision taken unanimously under the shock of the invasion. ... This ignored how competitive Ukrainian agriculture is and the fact that it is not subject to EU regulations, which, as the joke goes, even govern the shape of a banana. It’s like assuming that people are angels and will ignore the rules of the market — which tell you that it’s best to sell your product just over the border (and on the other hand, buy it cheaper) instead of laboriously sending it around the world.”

Wojciech Pięciak
Hromadske Radio (UA) /

Change of tone will come after the elections

On Hromadske Radio, Ivan Us, senior advisor in the Department of Foreign Economic Policy at the Ukrainian National Institute for Strategic Studies, explains why he thinks Poland will soon lift its embargo on Ukrainian goods:

“Elections will be held in mid-October in Poland. My impression is that as soon as they are over Poland will announce that it is lifting all bans on Ukrainian goods because ‘Ukraine is a brotherly country that we support’. But first the government will concentrate on the elections and their results.”

Ivan Us
Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Romania outstripping Poland

The PiS is gambling with Poland’s role as Ukraine’s most important ally, Rzeczpospolita comments:

“The lifeline of the Ukrainian economy now runs through [the Romanian port of] Constanța. As much grain from Ukraine has been exported via the Black Sea port since the beginning of the year as in the whole of last year. ... The Romanian government has received subsidies from the EU for this. ... But Washington also welcomes Bucharest’s efforts. It is starting to look for an alternative ally for Ukraine because it is not sure to what extent it can depend on Poland. After all, apart from subsidies from the EU and the US, the Ukrainian state lives off its exports, the lion’s share of which come from food sales.”

Jędrzej Bielecki