Poland says will extend ban on Ukraine grain imports

AFP , Tuesday 12 Sep 2023

The Polish government on Tuesday agreed to extend a ban on Ukrainian grain imports unilaterally even if the current EU restrictions expire on September 15.

Poland s government adopted a resolution calling on the EU to extend the ban on wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower seed imports from Ukraine. AFP


"Regardless of the (European) Commission's further decision, we will not open the border to Ukrainian grain after that date," the government said in a statement.

The statement said the government was still looking to extend the ban at the EU level but would do so in any case.

"If Brussels does not keep the embargo, we will introduce these measures ourselves... The interests of the Polish countryside are most important to us," it said.

The conflict in Ukraine and the problems with Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea have resulted in the EU becoming a major transit route and export destination for Ukrainian grain.

In June, the EU agreed to restrict imports of grain from Ukraine to five member states seeking to protect their farmers who blamed those imports for the slump in prices on local markets.

The five member states are Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

The five have asked for the restrictions, which expire on Friday, to be extended.

The issue is particularly sensitive in Poland as the country is holding elections next month.

The current populist right-wing government of the Law and Justice party has strong support in farming regions.

"I want to assure all farmers, the entire Polish countryside, that we will definitely defend the interests of the Polish farmer," Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at the cabinet meeting.

Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said Poland wanted to help Ukraine "but at the same time we must remember our citizens".

The government adopted a resolution calling on the EU to extend the ban on wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower seed imports.

It said Poland's ban "will remain in force until agricultural relations between Poland and Ukraine are regulated".

Poland is a major supplier of military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and hosts some one million Ukrainian refugees.

The issue of grain imports has triggered a diplomatic spat between the two neighbours.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said Tuesday that Kyiv was considering legal action.

"We have no intention of harming Polish farmers... But in case of violation of trade law in the interest of political populism before the elections, Ukraine will be forced to turn to WTO arbitration to obtain compensation for violation of GATT norms," he said on social media, referring to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

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