Current portal location

Website content

News archive

Dispute settlement | Brussels, 12 December 2020

The history of the EU-Ukraine dispute on wood export ban - Memo

In 2015, Ukraine introduced a 10-year export ban for all unprocessed wood, amending and supplementing a ban of 2005 on ten wood species of low commercial relevance. The EU raised the export ban with Ukraine at all levels and instances since 2015.

In January 2019, the EU requested formal government consultations under the Trade Title of the Association Agreement (“AA”). However, the consultations on 7 February 2019 failed to resolve the matter.

Consequently, on 20 June 2020, the EU formally requested the establishment of an arbitration panel. This was the first time the EU activated the independent arbitration mechanism under a bilateral trade agreement.

The Arbitration Panel (“the Panel”) was established on 28 January 2020. Due to COVID-19 related restrictions, the dispute settlement procedure was slightly delayed. A panel hearing took place as a virtual hearing on 22-23 September 2020.

On 11 December, the Panel issued its final ruling, concluding that the export bans are incompatible with Article 35 AA, which forbids export prohibitions.

As for the total ban on exports of all unprocessed wood, in force since 2015, the Panel could also not find any justification under the AA or GATT 1994.

Only the 2005 measures on ten specific wood species of low commercial use, characterised as “rare and valuable”, were found by the Panel to be partially justified under a plant life or health protection exception (Article 36 of the AA in conjunction with Article XX(b) of GATT 1994).

Ukraine will now have to take the necessary steps to comply with the arbitration ruling in view of terminating the export ban as soon as possible.