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Poland warns of further trade restrictions if deal with Ukraine not reached

by Martin Fornusek February 21, 2024 8:39 AM 2 min read
Over 100 farmers are blocking the road with their tractors, driving very slowly, in a protest against duty-free trade with Ukraine, which is lowering market prices below profitability levels, in Grojec, Poland, on February 9, 2024. (Photo by Piotr Lapinski/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Poland may consider additional restrictions on Ukrainian food products if a deal with Kyiv cannot be reached, Polish Agriculture Deputy Minister Michal Kolodziejczak told Polsat News on Feb. 20.

Protests at the Polish-Ukrainian border erupted earlier in February as Polish farmers decried the imports of Ukrainian agricultural products and the EU's Green Deal. The situation escalated on Feb. 20 when some farmers dumped Ukrainian grain and displayed anti-Ukrainian slogans, sparking an outcry in Ukraine.

Kolodziejczak said that Polish Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Siekierski would hold talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Mykola Solskyi in the morning on Feb. 21 to discuss exports to Poland and see if an agreement can be reached.

"The ball is in Ukraine's court," Kolodziejczak said, noting that if the talks fail, Warsaw may introduce further restrictions on Ukrainian goods.

Disputes over agricultural goods trade escalated last year when Poland's conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government introduced an embargo on Ukrainian grain and four other products, first within the EU framework and then unilaterally. The current government has not lifted the measure.

Polish farmers argue that Ukrainian imports create unfair competition, which Kyiv denies.

"Either they want to reach an agreement with us, or we will have to introduce further restrictions on the import of Ukrainian goods," the deputy minister said.

In another interview with the Polish Radio, Kolodziejczak said there is no confirmed information that Ukrainian grain or other restricted products would be reaching Polish markets.

Ukrainian exports to other EU countries nevertheless pose a challenge for Polish farmers, the deputy minister said, explaining that Poland is losing the German market as a result.

Kolodziejczak told Polsat News that government officials will open talks with protesting farmers next week.

Polish agricultural workers have previously participated in the carriers' blockade of the Ukrainian border between November 2023 and January but suspended their protests after concluding a deal with the government.

They have now resumed their protests, citing what they perceive as inaction and broken promises by Polish authorities.

Roman Kondrow, the leader of an organization of Polish farmers involved in the protest, said the border blockade may be extended until April. He also threatened to "intensify" the protest by blocking the passage of buses.

Farmers' protests against the EU Green Deal and the influx of cheaper products erupted in other European countries, including Czechia, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, France, Italy, Belgium, and Greece.

Infrastructure Ministry: Grain dumped by Polish farmers was transiting to Germany
According to the Infrastructure Ministry, the protesters spilled about four metric tons of grain from two grain freight cars waiting to be reloaded onto the narrow gauge. These agricultural products were in transit to Germany.
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