Poland secures EU concession to limit food exports from Ukraine 

Poland secures EU concession to limit food exports from Ukraine 

Unlock the Editor’s Digest for freeRoula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.The new government in Warsaw has won a concession from the EU in its battle to limit Ukrainian food exports, with the bloc’s top trade official saying Brussels would control the influx of farm products if they risked depressing prices in Poland and other neighbouring countries. Poland and Hungary introduced unilateral import bans on Ukrainian produce in April 2023, following widespread protests from farmers about cheap exports from Ukraine resulting in grain gluts on their domestic market. The ban was in defiance of EU common trade law. Now the European Commission is set to offer additional safeguards to countries that border Ukraine when it extends its tariff-free, quota-free access from June.Valdis Dombrovskis, trade commissioner, told the Financial Times that the proposal should come this week and would likely include “country specific safeguards” allowing Brussels to block imports if a particular country’s market was flooded. Currently, the impact on the EU market as a whole is assessed, reducing the likelihood of action. “We will be looking at how we can provide additional assurances to Poland and other member states and one way of doing this is introducing country-specific safeguards,” he said.“We see that this regional impact of trade or exports of Ukrainian agricultural products is very unevenly distributed. It’s primarily felt by immediate neighbouring countries whereas [it] doesn’t create much disruption for the EU market as a whole.”The tighter safeguards would be a boost for Polish prime minister Donald Tusk, who is trying to protect domestic economic interests while meeting his pledge to put Poland back at the heart of EU policymaking. This follows years of feuding between the previous administration of the Law and Justice (PiS) party and Brussels, mostly over Poland’s eroding rule of law. The Polish agriculture ministry did not respond immediately to a request for comment about the EU’s plan. After taking office last month, Tusk disappointed Brussels by maintaining the PiS-introduced grain ban, as well as vowing to defend the interests of Polish truckers who had blockaded some border crossings with Ukraine to protest against cheaper competition from Ukrainian hauliers. The drivers agreed last week to suspend their blockade, which will also facilitate a visit by Tusk to Kyiv. Dombrovskis said the extension would cover the year to June 2025. The proposal must be approved by the European parliament and a majority of member states.He also said he would open talks on mutual trade liberalisation, pressing Ukraine to reduce some of its own trade barriers to boost EU exports as it starts negotiations to join the bloc.RecommendedThe unilateral concession was granted to Kyiv in June 2022 in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion, which reduced Ukraine’s ability to send food through the Black Sea to its traditional markets in Africa and Asia.EU officials confirmed they are also considering export quotas on sensitive products such as poultry meat, sugar and eggs from Ukraine. Poultry and egg imports have doubled since the war began. A person familiar with the situation cautioned that no decision has been taken.Farmers and truckers have also mounted sporadic protests in Romania this month, demanding mostly domestic economic measures but also voicing concerns about Ukrainian competition and the lack of adequate regulation of Ukrainian imports and services.Romania’s main farmers’ organisation on Sunday asked the country’s leaders to push for a national safeguard clause and tighter restrictions on imports when the measures are renewed. Additional reporting by Marton Dunai in Budapest

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