Slovakia and Ukraine have reached an agreement to establish a new licensing system for agricultural trade, in an effort to resolve a dispute over grain imports. The announcement was made by the Slovak Agriculture Ministry, following a complaint filed by Kiev at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary. The three countries had imposed unilateral bans on the import of Ukrainian seeds and grain, claiming that they posed a threat to the livelihoods of local farmers and undercut domestic prices.
This dispute comes after the European Union (EU) allowed five Eastern European member states, including Romania and Bulgaria, to block the import of certain Ukrainian agricultural products for domestic sale earlier this summer. However, the ban was not extended this month. While Romania did not implement unilateral measures after the lifting of the EU ban, Bulgaria imposed an embargo on sunflower seeds from Ukraine on Wednesday, following protests by farmers.
In response to the complaint filed by Ukraine, Slovakia has agreed to create a grain trade system based on issuing and controlling licenses. The Slovak Agriculture Ministry stated that until this system is fully established and tested, the ban on importing four commodities from Ukraine will remain in place. Additionally, Kiev has agreed to withdraw its complaint against Slovakia at the WTO.
The ban imposed by Slovakia on wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds from Ukraine will be in effect until the end of the year. Prime Minister L’udovit Odor has previously stated that the ban was necessary in order to prevent excessive pressure on the Slovak market and ensure fairness for local farmers.
The Financial Times reported that the European Commission is likely to defend Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia against Ukraine’s complaint, despite these three member states going against EU policy on trade matters by imposing unilateral bans.
In conclusion, Slovakia and Ukraine have come to an agreement to establish a licensing system for agricultural trade, aiming to resolve the ongoing dispute over grain imports. This development could potentially provide a framework for future trade relations between the two countries and pave the way for the lifting of import bans. The involvement of the WTO and the support of the European Commission further demonstrate the significance of this issue in international trade.