21 Sep 2023 15:14

Agriculture ministers of Ukraine and Poland agree to work out plan for trade cooperation

MOSCOW. Sept 21 (Interfax) - Ukraine's Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food Nikolai Solsky and his Polish counterpart Robert Telus agreed by telephone to find a solution that considers the interests of both countries on agricultural products, Ukrainian media reported, citing the press service of the Ministry of Agrarian Policy of Ukraine.

"The ministers discussed the situation, as well as Ukraine's proposal to resolve it, and agreed to find a solution that takes the interests of both countries into account," the statement said.

The ministers also confirmed the close and constructive relations between the countries and approved the development in the near future of an "export cooperation" option.

The next negotiation session will take place in coming days. The negotiations will cover the issues prepared by that time by both sides. Poland promised to study the Ukrainian export plan and will prepare its own associated proposals.

Poland hopes Ukraine will not impose an embargo on Polish fruit and vegetables, as this will worsen the situation, Telus said.

"We have no confirmation that Ukraine will impose restrictions on imports of fruits and vegetables, as a Ukrainian government spokesperson said in comments for the press. The good news is that in today's comment they were focused on finding a solution. We hope this will not happen, as it will be an unnecessary escalation of the situation," Polish news agency pap.pl quoted him as saying.

Telus said Poland was of the opinion that agricultural products from Ukraine should go to their traditional buyers, not to the markets of neighboring EU countries. But he said transit through Poland was undisrupted.

"We note an increase in transit of Ukrainian goods through Poland. Compared to February, transit of grain has doubled and reached 260,000 tonnes in June," Telus said.

"Our actions are aimed at organizing trade and are not directed against anyone," he said, adding that the EU needed to create legal, financial and infrastructural tools to ensure that Ukrainian produce goes to traditional markets.

"These cannot be ad hoc tools and mechanisms. We need long-term solutions, including after Ukraine's expected accession to the EU," Telus said.

Poland, where parliamentary elections will take place in October, is one of the most implacable opponents of the supply of duty-free Ukrainian agricultural products into the EU, especially to its own market. Polish farmers are opposed to it, as inexpensive Ukrainian agricultural products drive down prices on the domestic market.

Four other Eastern European countries neighboring Ukraine, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, have found themselves in a similar situation. Under pressure from these five states, the European Commission in May introduced a ban on the import of a number of Ukrainian agricultural crops (wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower), which was in effect until September 15.

After the restrictions were lifted, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia introduced unilateral bans, and Bulgaria considered quotas on the import of Ukrainian sunflower seeds. Poland has expanded its list of Ukrainian products prohibited for import to include rapeseed cake and meal, as well as corn bran, wheat flour and derivative products. The list from Hungary is comprised of 24 items.

Ukraine filed a lawsuit with the World Trade Organization, accusing Poland, Hungary and Slovakia of discriminatory treatment toward Ukrainian agricultural products.