Céréales : Kiev porte la question des embargos polonais, hongrois et slovaque devant l’Organisation mondiale du commerce

Entrepôt de blé, dans le port de Reni (Ukraine), situé le long du Danube, en face des rives roumaines, le 27 juillet 2023.

The ongoing trade battle is unprecedented. On the evening of September 18th, Ukraine announced that it had filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary for imposing an embargo on the importation of Ukrainian cereals. “It is fundamentally important for us to prove that European Union member states cannot ban the importation of Ukrainian products,” stated Yuliya Svyridenko, Ukraine’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy, on Monday.

After the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Brussels removed all customs duties to help the country evacuate its agricultural products more easily. As its ports on the Black Sea are partially blockaded by the Russian army, the Commission decided to deploy “solidarity routes,” mostly overland, to evacuate these goods.

However, in April, the imports of Ukrainian cereals crossing the western land borders were blocked by five countries – in addition to the three countries already mentioned, Bulgaria and Romania. According to the authorities of these countries, the massive arrival of wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds has greatly destabilized the markets and had a significant impact on the incomes of their farmers.

After a few weeks of waiting, the Commission responsible for the trade policy of the bloc had authorized these partial embargoes in May, for a limited period of four months. But on Friday, Brussels announced the lifting of all restrictions. Valdis Dombrovskis, the Vice-President of the community executive in charge of trade, believed it was impossible to “perpetuate exceptional safeguard measures, which by nature must be limited in time.”

« Besoin de solidarité »

Selon les observations de la plateforme de coordination mise en place par Bruxelles avec les représentants de chaque pays concerné, les distorsions de marché sur ces produits agricoles n’existent plus. La Commission a aussi annoncé vendredi que l’Ukraine allait mieux contrôler les volumes de céréales exportés via ses frontières occidentales.

Despite these decisions, Warsaw, Bratislava, and Budapest have strongly rejected these measures and decided to maintain their embargo. Hungary has even decided to block around twenty other Ukrainian agricultural products. In response to this decision, Kiev has decided to react. “We are taking legal action against them at the WTO. At the same time, we hope that these states will lift their restrictions,” M assures.me Svyridenko.

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