14 Mar 2024 13:07

Warsaw hopes to resolve situation at Ukrainian border within weeks, proposes 10% restrictions on EU sugar imports from third countries in favor of Ukrainian sugar

MOSCOW. March 14 (Interfax) - The problem caused by Polish farmers blocking the border with Ukraine will be resolved within several weeks, Chairman of the Polish Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee Pawel Kowal said on Wednesday.

"The problems with farmers and the protection of certain segments of agriculture, such as wheat, corn and raspberries, will be resolved. The Polish and Ukrainian governments should find a solution so that Ukrainian products could be sold while protecting certain production sectors in Poland," Ukrainian media quoted Kowal as telling Radio Ukraine in an interview.

The European Union should consider restricting sugar imports from third countries by at least 10% in order to make space for Ukrainian sugar in the European market and to prevent the market from collapsing, Director of the Polish National Association of Sugar Beet Growers Rafal Strachota said in the Between Brussels and Kiev program on farmer.pl, as reported by Ukrainian media.

Strachota noted that the European Commission is working on a resolution on protective measures, which would limit Ukrainian sugar imports, based on the 2022-2023 supplies. Given such data, Ukraine will be allowed to deliver 320,000 tonnes of sugar to Poland each year. "This is too much," he said.

According to the Polish National Association of Sugar Beet Growers, Polish sugar imports have the following structure in 2023-2024: 32% is supplied from Ukraine, 23% from Brazil, 9% from Eswatini, 7% from Mauritius and Colombia each, and 18% from other countries.

Meanwhile, Poland grew 2.34 million tonnes of sugar beets in 2023 due to the expansion of production areas to 265,000 hectares. The average beet yield was about 64 tonnes per hectare, and the difference in yield between individual regions was very large. Over 26,000 farmers grew beets in Poland last year.

"At the same time, average sugar prices decreased by 12% in Poland from October to December 2023, while the prices of one-kilo sugar packages declined by over 20%," Strachota said.

He said he was concerned about a possible problem Ukrainian sugar might create on the Polish market before autonomous trade measures take effect in June 2024. "We are afraid that lots of sugar might be supplied from Ukraine by then. Let me remind you that the campaign [sugar production season] is over, and sugar is ready. It is being stored in warehouses, about 600,000 tonnes of sugar are left there and can easily get into the EU," he said.

Ukraine planted about 250,000 hectares with sugar beet in 2023, and about 1.8 million tonnes of sugar were made, Strachota said. Domestic consumption amounts to less than 1 million tonnes of sugar with the export potential of 800,000 tonnes, he added.

"In the first three months of the current marketing year, about 200,000 tonnes of sugar from Ukraine entered the EU," he said.

The media outlet's data suggests that Ukraine supplied 17,777 tonnes of sugar to Poland in 2021, versus 15,278 tonnes in 2022, and 468,970 tonnes in 2023.

"Extending EU trade liberalization with Ukraine for another year, that is, until June 2025, while limiting Ukrainian sugar imports, is at stake. In this case, the average amounts of Ukrainian sugar imports in 2022 and 2023, which were huge, serve as the etalon," Strachota said.

Warsaw asks the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Union to calculate the allowable imports on the basis of 2021-2022 supplies, he said.