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The EU has ignored pleas from Poland and ended a partial ban on grain imports from Ukraine, asking Kyiv as an alternative to voluntarily stop surges of produce into neighbouring international locations.
Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia had demanded that curbs on 4 grains, together with wheat and maize, that expire on Friday be carried via till the top of the yr to guard their farmers from low cost competitors.
However weeks earlier than elections in Warsaw and Bratislava, Brussels concluded that “market distortions” within the member states bordering Ukraine had “disappeared” for the reason that short-term ban was launched in Might.
Defying Brussels’ determination, Poland and Hungary mentioned they’d unilaterally apply curbs on imports to guard their farmers. “The curiosity of the Polish farmer is an important for us, not the Ukrainian oligarchs,” Polish deputy agriculture minister Janusz Kowalski informed the Monetary Occasions on Friday night.
Dealing with this potential problem to the European Fee’s authority over commerce coverage, senior EU officers referred to as for member states to “work within the spirit of compromise”. Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU’s commerce commissioner, mentioned “the perfect in fact can be for member states to chorus from unilateral measures”.
A majority of member states had additionally opposed the extension, in line with a number of diplomats. The fee mentioned that, rather than a proper ban, Kyiv would as an alternative introduce “authorized measures” inside 30 days “to keep away from grain surges”.
The expiry of the ban will appease Ukraine, which had threatened authorized motion in opposition to Brussels. Taras Kachka, Ukraine’s deputy financial system minister, informed the FT that Kyiv would problem the EU transfer on the World Commerce Group if it prolonged the measure.
“You will need to shift from a political dialogue to a chilly authorized evaluation,” he mentioned, including that the bans had been “not applicable”.
Poland’s ruling Regulation and Justice (PiS) get together wants assist from its rural voters to win a 3rd time period in workplace. Polish authorities officers have in current days additionally raised the difficulty of Ukraine’s bid to hitch the EU. Agriculture minister Robert Telus on Thursday mentioned Ukraine’s agricultural trade posed a “risk” to EU farmers and the nation shouldn’t be allowed to hitch the bloc “with out circumstances”.
Telus informed a press convention on Friday: “All substantive arguments had been for extending this ban, however as soon as once more we see that Brussels bureaucrats are making political choices and on this approach wish to hurt Poland, . . . border international locations, but additionally the European Union.”
Polish farmers held massive protests at first of this yr in opposition to the federal government’s failure to guard them from the effects of cheap Ukrainian imports, which opposition events additionally instantly seized upon. Farming affiliation Agrounia launched a political get together to denounce imports of Ukrainian cereals, and lately joined the opposition coalition led by former prime minister Donald Tusk.
Poland’s Kowalski mentioned that Warsaw would impose its personal ban from midnight on Friday, fulfilling its risk to cease Ukrainian imports no matter had been determined in Brussels. Hungary has additionally mentioned it should unilaterally apply curbs.
The EU lifted quotas and tariffs on Ukrainian foodstuffs quickly after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine final yr. The bloc’s transfer was aimed toward boosting Kyiv’s war-torn financial system.
In current months, extra Ukrainian grain has began arriving by land via neighbouring EU international locations after Moscow pulled out of a scheme to permit exports by way of the Black Sea.
Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain deal in July sparked a quick rally in international grain costs, however since then Russia’s bumper wheat harvest has tempered prices, bringing Chicago wheat futures to their lowest ranges in virtually three years.
Whether or not or not the ban was prolonged has no impression on the Polish market, mentioned Miroslaw Marciniak, a market analyst at Warsaw-based InfoGrain. “It isn’t Ukrainian grain making the costs so low, it’s the worldwide markets.”
Bulgaria was initially within the protesting group of nations however on Thursday voted to raise the ban in an try to convey down home meals costs. The federal government in Sofia mentioned it could compensate farmers.
“Bulgaria units an instance of true solidarity,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on social media platform X.
Further reporting by Marton Dunai in Budapest, Roman Olearchyk in Kyiv and Barbara Erling in Warsaw, Henry Foy in Santiago de Compostela