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Ban on import of non-exotic fruit and vegetables contradicts WTO regulations

Kyiv. November 9, 2010

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine’s intentions to ban the import of non-exotic fruit and vegetables are out of line with a number of commitments a country undertakes when accedes the World Trade Organization, believes Associate of Volkov and Partners Tatiana Kheruvimova.
Such opinion was expressed in the interview to UNTERFAX-Ukraine by the Associate that commented on the recent announcement by Minister of Agriculture Mykola Prysiazhniuk as regards the government’s intentions.
“A possible ban is to shore up domestic prices, which may mean protectionist moves by Ukraine for importers”, said Ms. Kheruvimova.
The Associate explained that in case where the government chooses to impose a ban without any required notifications and consultations with the WTO, such moves may result in alike restrictions for Ukraine from the side of importing countries.
In her opinion, considering that the application of measures might entail consequences both for importers and for national producers and consumers, it would be a good thing to conduct early consultations with the said participants of trade-economic relations.
At the same time, Ms. Kheruvimova explained that the national legislation and WTO regulations envisage a set of other mechanisms of trade protection of the national producer, “for example, anti-dumping, safeguard or anti-subsidy investigations”.
Thus, according to the Associate, in case of import surge, injurious to the national producer, the latter enjoys the right to apply with the Ministry of Economy to initiate a safeguard investigation that may trigger the imposition of safeguard measures.
Reportedly, in the course of the meeting that was held in Vinnitsa region and concerned the situation in the food market and autumn-field works completion Minister of Agriculture Mykola Prysiazhniuk reported that the government intends to ban the import of non-exotic fruit and vegetables.
According to him, imported vegetables, fruit, and berries sales show annual sharp increase in structured distribution networks.
Thus, the Minister believes that it is better to suspend import of all vegetables, fruit, and berries usual for Ukraine, except for those of exotic nature, using economical and administrative leverages. Mr. Prysiazhniuk says that our product must have better market appearance, for now this is an advantage of imported products.
At the same time, according to the Minister, the main current concern is to overcome the national consumer’s habit to give preference to the imported consumption products.
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