27 Feb 2024 15:37

Lithuania denies accusations of re-exporting Ukrainian grain to Poland

VILNIUS. Feb 27 (Interfax/BNS) - Suspicions that Ukrainian grain coming from Poland to Lithuania is re-exported to Poland as Lithuanian product seem unfounded, Lithuanian Agriculture Minister Kestutis Navickas said.

"Narrowing the whole topic to the grain carousel, that which Lithuania is accused of - and by the way, this accusation has also been brought against Germany - the question gradually arises - on the one hand, is this or would it be considered smuggling? In any case, this is an illegal act, and there would be signs of it, but neither we nor the Polish side see these signs," the minister said in an interview with the Lithuanian National Radio and Television Company.

In addition, the Lithuanian authorities, together with the Polish side, want to check whether the amount of grain transported from Ukraine through Poland to Lithuania corresponds to official data, he said.

"Yesterday I agreed with the Polish minister on two things: we now have a direct channel for exchanging information about what is happening, and something else; we have also requested assistance from the Ukrainian-Polish border with the number of declared cargo shipments to Lithuania and we will compare these with our own data," Navickas said.

With the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, some Russian agricultural products were replaced by Ukrainian ones, so more Ukrainian carriers are passing through the country, he said.

In an interview with radio station Ziniu radijas, Advisor to the President of Lithuania Jarek Neverovich said that last year, up to 40,000 tonnes of wheat were shipped from Ukraine to Lithuania.

"This is a drop in the bucket compared to what Lithuania itself grows. We must take into account that this is a very small amount," Neverovich said.

SEB Bank economist Tadas Povilauskas said that Ukrainian grain transported to Lithuania is less than 1% of the volume of the Lithuanian wheat harvest.

"We can count it; at least four grain trucks transporting wheat cross Lithuania, then eight are carrying corn; it's normal that they are visible. But this is 30,000 tonnes of wheat compared to the harvest for Lithuanian consumption and export; it is less than one percent of the total; small numbers," the economist said.

Polish farmers are preparing two new blockades starting March 1: one at the former Polish-German border checkpoint in the town of Swiecie and another on the road at the former Lithuanian-Polish border checkpoint of Kalwaria-Budzisko. The blockade is planned to last about one week. Farmers will check the contents of trucks, especially agricultural cargo. "The question of blocking the Lithuanian border arose when we were thinking about how to increase pressure on the Polish government and about the possibly not entirely legal transport of agricultural products between Poland and Lithuania," protest organizer Karol Pieczynski said.

Chairman of the Lithuanian Grain Producers Association Ausris Macijauskas says that Polish farmers' suspicions that Ukrainian grain transported from Poland to Lithuania is returned or processed and re-exported as Lithuanian goods are justified.

A nationwide farmers' strike started on February 9 in Poland. The main demands of the strikers were an adjustment to the European Commission's "green" course, which limits the flow of Ukrainian agricultural products to the Polish market, as well as an increase in the profitability of agricultural production. The protests will last 30 days, during which farmers intend to block all Ukrainian-Polish border crossings and transport hubs.