EU to examine Poland’s complaint over Russian embargo
August 20, 2014
Poland's Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki
The European Commission accepted Poland's motion to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization against Russia's trade embargo for EU food exports, Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki said on Tuesday.
Poland has asked the European Commission to lodge a formal complaint to WTO over Russia's refusal to buy Polish produce including fruit and vegetables to the World Trade Organization. The agricultural embargo has hit Poland particularly hard. According to the agriculture ministry, Poland exported over 804,000 tons of fruit and vegetables worth almost EUR 336 million to Russia last year. The Russian market accounts for some 7% of Poland's food exports. Apples account for almost three-quarters of the total volume of fruit produced in Poland. The country’s losses could total EUR 500 million, Sawicki had earlier said.
The Commission had before been cautious about taking the embargo case to the WTO, as it could escalate a trade conflict with Russia over Ukraine. However, after a Tuesday meeting in Brussels with European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, who represents EU members in all WTO cases Sawicki said the EU will now start consultations on the matter and that first decisions on the dispute could be made on September 12.
"We believe Russia has broken international law in both its embargo against Poland and its embargo against the EU," Sawicki had said before on television.
Warsaw says the ban was imposed as retaliation for EU sanctions against Russia over its role in the Ukraine conflict..
Meanwhile, Sawicki said Polish farmers who are hit by the Russian embargo on fruit and vegetable imports and who want to withdraw their production from the market can already apply to the Agricultural Market Agency for compensation.
Sawicki added that EUR 125 million allocated by the European Commission to support farmers hit by the embargo is only an initial tool to calm down the market.