26 Feb 2024 14:46

Ukraine proposes 'plan of understanding' to unblock border with Poland, reserves right to use reciprocal measures

MOSCOW. Feb 26 (Interfax) - Kiev has proposed "a plan of understanding" to unblock the border with Poland, Ukrainian media outlets said with a reference to Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmygal.

"We're proposing Ukraine's plan for unblocking the border. 'The plan of understanding.' Ukraine agrees to restrictions proposed by the European Commission on our agricultural exports. These are automated protection measures presented as part of the EC's decision alongside its proposal to continue duty-free trade between EU and Ukraine. Restrictions, in particular, apply to poultry meat, eggs, and sugar," Shmygal said on the border with Poland on Friday.

Ukraine will export these products to the European Union without quotas and duties in quantities no more than on the average in 2022 and 2023, and restrictions will return if it starts exporting more, the premier said.

Ukraine is also ready to maintain the mechanism of verifying export of grain, corn, sunflower and rapeseed, in other words, these four groups of goods will not enter the Polish market without Poland's permission.

Ukraine will send an appeal to the European Commission (EC) proposing to hold an emergency screening of Clusters 4 and 5 which include agrarian policy and transport, he said.

"It is needed to once and for all remove manipulations about the quality of our agricultural products and about whether support for our farmers complies with the WTO standards. Let's do it fast. Let's start on March 4," he said.

Ukraine intends to approach the European Commission with a proposal to consider additional restrictions and enhanced monitoring of agricultural import of third countries to the EU, he said.

"We're proposing to create 'the trilateral Ukraine-Poland-EC headquarters' co-chaired by the ministers of agriculture of Ukraine and Poland and a representative of the EC. We will involve Ukrainian and Polish agricultural associations in the headquarters' operations. We must work round the clock to address all misunderstandings promptly," Shmygal said.

The matter of unblocking the border with Poland must be resolved earlier than March 28, otherwise Ukraine reserves the right to use reciprocal measures at checkpoints, he said.

"Over 9,000 trucks are standing on the border on both sides today, and this issue needs to be urgently resolved. The trilateral Ukraine-Poland-EC headquarters should work round the clock, and the issue of unblocking the border should be resolved much earlier than on March 28, the date when the joint meeting of the governments of Ukraine and Poland was supposed to take place. Otherwise, Ukraine reserves the right to use reciprocal measures at checkpoints. Ukraine is resorting to certain compromises which are painful for us. But we want to be partners for the EU, all our Western neighbors," he said.

Ukraine has not been selling its grain to the Polish market for the past five months, Ukrainian grain has been passing the territory of Poland only in transit, he said.

"We're calling on our Polish colleagues, Polish farmers, all Poles. Ukraine has not been selling its grain to the Polish market for the past five months. Ukraine is not selling its corn, sunflower seed, and rapeseed to the Polish market. Our government made a decision on licensing of export of part of agricultural goods on September 16, 2023. It is now impossible to export grain, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower to the Polish market without Poland's permission. There are no permissions, and there's no export as well. We want Polish farmers and society to hear it. Ukrainian grain is not headed towards the Polish market," he said.

Ukrainian grain is going to Poland only as transit, the Ukrainian premier said. A total of 5% of the entire Ukrainian agro export passes the Polish border at present, while the grain corridor via the Black Sea is the main export route.

"The blockade is affecting the entire Polish-Ukrainian trade, the economies of our countries. Not just Ukraine is losing from it, but also Polish entrepreneurs exporting goods worth $12 billion a year to our market. Poles and Polish farmers need to hear this truth to understand the absurdity of blocking the border," Shmygal said.