POLAND- Several EU countries are against extending an import ban on Ukrainian grain beyond mid-September as initially planned, according to a report by POLITICO.
Ukrainian grain products, including wheat, maize, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds, are banned from the markets of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Slovakia under a deal struck with the European Commission earlier this year to protect their farmers from an influx of cheaper produce from their war-torn neighbor.
Poland announced on Sept. 12 that it will not lift its embargo on imports of Ukrainian grain on 15th September as originally planned, with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki saying resuming imports would hurt Polish farmers.
“Poland will not allow Ukraine grain to flood us. Regardless of the decisions of the clerks in Brussels (Belgium), we will not open up our borders,” Morawiecki said on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
Morawiecki was referring to an upcoming meeting of the European Union Parliament where the issue will be discussed. If Poland were to go against the EU’s decision on the matter, it would violate the bloc’s common trade rules.
Cheaper Ukraine grain began flooding the Polish market after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 22, 2022.
Last year, the EU established solidarity lanes to facilitate grain exports from war-torn Ukraine, which had its ports blocked.
Huge flows of cheap Ukrainian grain ended up in central European countries, affecting grain prices for local farmers. Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria also have imposed embargoes on Ukraine’s agricultural products to protect their farmers.
Although Poland has staunchly supported Ukraine with humanitarian and military assistance against Russia’s invasion, which is in its 20th month, it imposed the embargo in April after its farmers protested that the imports were depressing domestic grain prices.
In May this year, Poland hinted that it would not lift the ban by the end of June and intended to extend it to the end of the year.
However, after various deliberations, the embargo was scheduled to end on Sept. 15.
Following these new developments concerning the ban, Ukraine has said it will make an appeal to the World Trade Organization if the embargoes are not lifted.
Similarly, Hungary has agreed with Romania, Slovakia, and Bulgaria to bar Ukrainian grain imports to protect their markets if the European Union does not extend a ban that expires on Sept. 15, the Hungarian farm minister said on Wednesday.
However, Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov told the Bulgarian state news agency before the start of a cabinet meeting that waiving the ban on imports from Ukraine would be desirable as it would reduce the prices of basic foods.
“Let us be clear – the resumption of imports from Ukraine will reduce the prices of basic foods, reduce inflation, which will help low-income people, and increase budget revenues from imports and exports,” Denkov was quoted as saying.