Ukraine addressed a meeting of the World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement Body for the first time on 20 February, demanding that a panel be set up to consider its complaint about Russia’s repeated restrictions of transit of goods from Ukraine through its territory to third countries, Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade Natalia Mykolska has announced.

"As expected, the Russian Federation used its only chance to reject the request to set up a panel at the first meeting in accordance with the WTO rules and procedures for settlement of disputes. Ukraine will continue the process of complaint against Russia’s restrictive measures on transit traffic by submitting the request to set up a panel at the next meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body, at which, in accordance with Article 6 of the WTO Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes, a decision to set up a panel will be made, regardless of the position of the Russian Federation," Mykolska said.

According to Mykolska, the European Union has expressed interest in the consideration of this case and it intends to join the case as a third party at the stage of establishment of a panel.

As reported, the dispute involves Russia’s decision to impose restrictions on transportation of goods on transit by road and rail from Ukraine through Russian territory to Kazakhstan on 1 January 2016 and to Kyrgyzstan on 1 July, following the adoption of the provisions of the free trade area between Ukraine and the European Union. Experts estimate that about 79% of exports from Ukraine to Kazakhstan and 95% exports to Kyrgyzstan have been affected by the restrictions and partial ban imposed by Russia.

"Following the imposition of the restrictive measures that are being appealed, export of goods from Ukraine to Central/East Asian countries fell by 38.3% in 2016 compared to 2015. In general, the loss of exports to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are estimated at more than USD 0 4 billion," Mykolska said recently.