Train cars filled with Ukrainian grain at the Dorhusk station on the Polish-Ukrainian border

Warsaw (AFP) - Poland’s agriculture minister said on Wednesday that his country remained open to a Ukrainian proposal for a grain import licensing system, adding that the thorny issue would be discussed in the coming weeks.

Kyiv has suggested issuing licences to exporters of wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflowers in line with Poland’s needs, Robert Telus said, after a video meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart.

“It’s a question that we have to examine, but from the outside the proposal seems like a good thing,” he said.

Ukraine’s grain exports are meant to be transiting through the European Union to Africa and the Middle East in particular, since the war-torn nation’s traditional Black Sea routes were blocked by Russia’s invasion.

But because of logistical issues, grain had been piling up in central Europe and driving down local prices, prompting several countries to declare an embargo on imports which was temporarily approved by Brussels.

Along with Hungary and Slovakia, Poland said on September 15 that it would extend its embargo, going against a European Commission decision to end the restrictions.

The issue has led to a diplomatic spat between the allies and prompted Kyiv to file a lawsuit against the three countries at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Telus insisted that the Polish position on refusing Ukrainian grain imports remained “firm” and that the Ukrainian side “has accepted our reasoning”.

He reiterated Poland’s call for Kyiv to withdraw its WTO complaint but said that talks would continue “in the coming weeks”.

Poland will also study a Ukrainian proposal for part of the import checks to take place in German ports, rather than at the Polish-Ukrainian border, Telus said.

A Ukrainian press release said that agriculture ministers from Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania would meet in the coming days to discuss transferring grain quality checks to destination countries, to facilitate transit through Poland.

Warsaw holds parliamentary elections next month. Its populist right-wing government has strong support in agricultural regions and has presented the ban as protecting Polish farmers.