On Tuesday, October 3, 2023, Ukraine and Poland announced their agreement to speed up the transit of Ukrainian cereal exports through Poland to third countries.
This marks a significant breakthrough that could help resolve the simmering row between the two countries.
The diplomatic spat between the two allies started when Poland imposed a ban on imports of Ukrainian grain.
Ukraine’s neighbours, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Romania, had agreed with the European Union to impose an embargo on grain produced from Kyiv from April until September 15 to prevent a knock-on effect on its farmers.
After the embargo expired, Poland continued to impose the blockade, igniting a feud with Ukraine while also threatening Kyiv’s own capability to sustain itself economically as it continues to fight Russia.
The Polish government in Warsaw, which faces a general election on October 15, 2023, said that the embargo was designed to protect local farmers against a collapse in cereal prices.
Under Tuesday’s agreement, which also involves Lithuania, some Ukrainian grain destined for world markets will transit directly through Poland without undergoing quality checks at the Polish border.
“We have agreed on an important question,” Polish Agriculture Minister, Robert Telus was quoted as telling journalists after an online meeting with Ministers from Ukraine and Lithuania; Mykola Solsky and Kyastutis Navickas, respectively.
“From tomorrow, grains that transit (to world markets) via Lithuania will undergo checks at a Lithuanian port and not at the Poland-Ukraine border,” he noted.
The Ukrainian agriculture ministry noted in a statement that the deal would “speed up transit through the territory of Poland.”
“Robert Telus and Kyastutis Navickas noted that their governments support such a control mechanism and consider it a constructive step,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, Greek Foreign Minister, Giorgos Gerapetritis told his European Union colleagues that Greece is ready to transport Ukrainian grain via the ports in the North.
Gerapetriris pointed to the “immense” repercussions of the collapse of the Black Sea grain deal; an agreement for the safe export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea, especially for the supply of the countries in the global south.
According to diplomatic sources, Gerapetritis highlighted Greece’s readiness to contribute to finding a solution and referred to possibility of transporting grain via the ports of Northern Greece and especially the port of Alexandroupoli.
Ukraine To Borrow $700m From World Bank
In other developments, Ukraine’s farm ministry disclosed that Kyiv has started discussions with the World Bank to borrow $700m for emergency support to the agricultural sector this year and next year.
The ministry said in a message sent through Telegram that it needs additional funding for small farmers and agricultural and food producers, as the country continues to grapple with the economic effect of the Russian military invasion.
Agricultural products are Ukraine’s most important exports as it generates much income..
In 2021, they totalled $27.8bn, accounting for 41 percent of the country’s $68bn in overall exports, according to data gathered by the U.S Department of Agriculture.
However, the UCAB business association said on Tuesday that the volume of Ukrainian food supplies to foreign markets in September fell by 3% compared to August.
It said that grain exports had fallen 10% last month to 2.1 million metric tons, while shipments of vegetable oils decreased by 13% to 479,900 tons.
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