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Ukraine has appealed to three neighbouring countries in the European Union (EU) to enter “constructive dialogue” to end a dispute over agricultural trade, and approved what it called a “compromise scenario”, Reuters reported.

Poland, Slovakia and Hungary announced restrictions on imports from Ukraine on Friday 15 September after the European Commission (EC) decided not to extend a ban on sales into Ukraine’s five EU neighbours, which also include Romania and Bulgaria, the report said.

According to the 19 September report, the Polish, Slovak and Hungarian governments’ actions were made in a bid to protect farmers from a surge of grain and food imports from Ukraine since its invasion by Russia last year.

A World Trade Organization (WTO) spokesperson confirmed that Ukraine had taken the first step in a trade dispute by filing a complaint to the global trade body, the report said.

“We can confirm that a request for consultations was received ... Further information will be provided once the request has been circulated to our members," the spokesperson said in an email addressed to Reuters.

Although the spokesperson did not name the countries, Ukraine had previously said the complaint targeted Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, Reuters wrote.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal later explained Kyiv’s position in comments on the Telegram messaging app.

Shmyhal confirmed that Kyiv would impose retaliatory import restrictions on specific categories of goods from Poland and Hungary if they did not lift their unilateral bans.

Meanwhile, Ukraine was conducting an investigation to show that the unilateral bans were discriminatory, he added.

Shmyhal was quoted as saying Kyiv had proposed to the EC, the EU executive, and neighbouring countries an export control plan on four groups of farm products to prevent market distortions – a plan he described as a compromise scenario.

“We once again call on our neighbours to …embark on the path of constructive dialogue,” he said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who, at the time of the report was attending UN meetings in New York, was quoted as saying he told the Sustainable Development Goals summit that Ukraine’s exports were “helping the world be more stable and stronger”.

Polish President Andrzej Duda, also in New York, reportedly told reporters: “It would be good for Ukraine to remember that it receives help from us and to remember that we are also a transit country to Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s Trade Representative, Taras Kachka, told national television that Kyiv sought the removal of the bans, Reuters wrote.

“We want to see Polish farmers develop, we want to see Ukrainian farmers develop...Each has their own situation and a great many problems,” Kachka said.

“Poland banned imports. So, you have to understand our actions are a reaction. We have been in talks with them for half a year in different situations.”

Signalling its intention to move forward with the compromise proposal on 19 September, the Ukrainian government approved the introduction of export licences for a number of agricultural products for export to Ukraine’s five EU neighbours.

“The government of Ukraine approved a new procedure for exporting certain types of products to certain EU member states,” the agriculture ministry said in a statement.

“It stipulates that four crops – corn, rapeseed, sunflowerseed and wheat, which are exported to 5 countries – must be licensed by the economy ministry in agreement with agriculture ministry.”

The ministry said Kyiv would agree on the list and volume of products with importing countries, which would determine whether they are ready to accept these goods.

“Only then do we issue permits to our companies to export certain products. Ukraine controls its exports and coordinates them with the receiving countries,” it added.

Russia’s war on Ukraine has disrupted Kyiv’s ability to export farm products through its ports, leading to a surge in shipments via road, rail and barge through its five neighbours, Reuters wrote.

Accordig to farm ministry data quoted in a World Grain report on 18 September,1.4M tonnes of Ukrainian farm goods left the country by train in the first three months of the 202324 July-June season out of a total export volume of 4.5Mtonnes. Ukraine ships grain by train via crossings with Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. Ukraine also shipped by rail an additional 1Mtonnes of oils and oilseeds.

Against this backdrop, the first two commercial vessels have entered a Ukrainian Black Sea port since the collapse of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI) in July after the Ukrainian government confirmed the vessels were preparing to enter the port of Chornomorsk in an official statement, AgriCensus reported on18 September.

In a note published on 17 September, Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure and Ministry of Agriculture said that at least two bulk vessels had agreed to enter Chornomorsk using the so-called humanitarian corridor, which confirmed earlier reports made the previous week.

The vessel Aroyat with a summer deadweight of 18,315 tonnes and Resilient Africa with a summer deadweight of 3,275 tonnes have since arrived and are anchored in Chornomorsk loading around 20,000 tonnes of wheat bound for Africa and Asia, according to an update from the infrastructure ministry.

Russian forces have continued to attack Ukraine's Danube ports and have been sending drones and missiles to Odessa and nearby territories over the weekend, according to local authorities quoted in the report.

Meanwhile, in an earlier report, Reuters quoted Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba as saying on 7 September that Ukraine and Croatia had agreed on the possibility of using Croatian ports on the Danube and the Adriatic Sea for the export of Ukrainian grain.

“Although it is a niche trade route, it is already popular,” Ukraine’s First Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko was quoted as saying in a written statement.

Svyrydenko did not say how much Ukrainian grain had already been shipped via Croatian ports, the report said.

Since Russia quit the BSGI in July, Kyiv had increasingly used its Danube River ports to export grain, Reuters wrote.

However, Russia had been targeting Ukrainian port infrastructure on the Danube, Reuters said.

Some exports are also sent by rail but Ukrainian brokers have said rail deliveries to European ports are more expensive than direct exports via Ukrainian ports, according to the report.

Ukrainian traders’ union UGA said the country’s 2023 combined grain and oilseed harvest could reach 80.5M tonnes.