19.04.2023 15:50

The ban on the import of Ukrainian agricultural products may affect the sowing campaign, - Pavlo Koval

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19.04.2023 15:50

The UN-backed grain corridor is the main exit route for Ukrainian agricultural exports, so the decision by Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria to block them too will cause considerable damage to Ukrainian farmers and a sector hard hit by the war.

Kyiv's hope is that a negotiated solution will be found on a multilateral scale between Ukraine, the national governments involved and the European Commission (EC), whose decision to lift tariffs on its products triggered a reaction from the four eastern countries.



According to the Ukrainian Minister of Agriculture, Mykola Solskyi, 10% of the country's agricultural exports passed through Polish territory and 6% through Hungarian territory, the two countries that last weekend decided to ban these goods, joined by this Monday Slovakia.

"Losing the ability to export goods through these countries, especially Poland, which explicitly prohibited transit through its territory, would be very painful for Ukrainian producers and traders," Pavlo Koval, director of the "Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation" stressed to EFE.

The ban threatens to further aggravate the situation in the countryside, after three difficult harvests and in the midst of the Russian invasion. The timing of the decision is unfortunate, as the current planting season was already affected by unfavourable weather conditions.

Uncertainty about future exports may encourage farmers to reduce planting areas, which in the medium term will create social tension in Ukraine and make products more expensive in countries like Portugal and Spain, major importers of Ukrainian grain.



The fall in prices of Polish agricultural products is mainly due to global trends, Olga Trofimtseva, special ambassador of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stresses to EFE. However, she adds, in the face of Polish voters it was easier to blame Ukrainian farmers. With this, she alludes to the legislative elections that will take place in the autumn in Poland.

“For these countries, the EC needs to tackle that problem more quickly,” says Koval, adding that it is unclear how much Ukrainian grain is transported through these countries and how much remains there, making local products cheaper.

Even if Ukrainian grain precipitated a fall in prices in the agricultural sector, this would not explain the ban on other products, such as sugar or poultry, she continues.


Infrastructure as an added factor

The persistent problems in increasing transit capacity through these countries have contributed to the worsening of the crisis. Ukrainian grain accumulated in those border countries, instead of moving it quickly to destinations, Trofimtseva stresses.

"Despite how much was said about it at the beginning of the invasion, not enough has been done to expedite transit, either due to bureaucratic or financing problems," she told Efe.

According to Koval, the capacity of the three main Polish ports is equal to the monthly volume of Ukrainian grain exports.

After some progress in the first months of the invasion and the launch last August of the UN-backed “grain corridor” from Ukraine, the situation has come to a standstill.

Infrastructure between the EU and Ukraine needs to be urgently developed, as the 'grain corridor' is running at less than half its potential capacity.

Both Trofimtseva and Koval argue that the development of infrastructures would benefit both the EU and Ukraine in the long term, also taking into account their integration process into the bloc.



Trofimstseva argues that Ukraine's agricultural exports are a major challenge for Brussels, while Koval points out that the decisions by Poland, Hungary and Slovakia contravene the fundamental principles of EU trade policy.

Ukraine is looking for ways to solve the problem, while Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko, like Agriculture Minister Solskyi, is expected to address the situation with their EU counterparts.

The main objective is to unblock the transit of grain through Poland and to find mechanisms to guarantee that it will not leak into the Polish internal market.

Trofimtseva warns that what is necessary must be done to have the situation resolved before June, when the new harvest starts.

Koval hopes that all parties will soon find a solution addressing the larger issues at stake in Ukraine, such as the defence of common values in the face of Russian aggression.


IC UAC according to EFE Agro

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