Business news from Ukraine

EC demands Poland to lift embargo on Ukrainian agricultural products

The Polish government has received a letter from the European Commission demanding to lift the indefinite embargo on duty-free imports of certain agricultural goods to Poland, Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Sekerski said at a press conference after meeting with representatives of the All-Polish Association of Farmers’ Unions and Agricultural Organizations on Thursday.

“There is a growing danger of a return to the grain crisis of a year ago. The European Commission is demanding that Poland lift the embargo on agricultural products from Ukraine, and farmers are concerned that Ukrainian grain will be only a transit in the new year,” quoted him as saying.

The Polish publication noted that after the new year, farmers’ fears about the inflow of agri-food products from Ukraine will not disappear. Gustaw Endrejek, President of the Lublin Chamber of Agriculture, received signals that Poland resumed imports of four types of grain from Ukraine on January 1.

“We don’t know what will happen at the border, as there is contradictory information about the transportation of grain to Poland as duty-free imports,” the newspaper quoted Gustaw Endrejek as saying.

At a press conference, Minister Sekerski assured the public that the resolution on the unilateral closure of the Polish-Ukrainian border is in effect despite Brussels’ demand to resume imports.

“This embargo is indefinite. We believe we already have evidence of this, because we have received a letter from the European Commission demanding the embargo be lifted,” Sekerski explained.

As reported, on Thursday, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Poland on Twitter quoted Minister Sekerski as saying that he supported the strikers’ demands, which, however, should be adapted to the current legislation in Poland, including EU legislation. He noted that legal authorization of all the demands would take time. In any case, the Polish-Ukrainian border will not be opened and the embargo on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products will be indefinite.

On January 4, farmers from the organization “Podkarpackie Deceived Village” resumed protests and blockades of the Medyka-Shehynia border crossing, which were suspended on December 24, 2023. The leader of the organization, Roman Kondruv, told Polish media that the organization had not received written confirmation that its demands would be met, so the protest would continue.

The farmers started their protest on November 23 last year, and stopped it a month later. On the eve of Christmas, Polish Minister of Agriculture Czeslaw Sekerski came to Medyka and assured that the farmers’ demands would be met.

Polish farmers insist on receiving written assurances from the Polish government that their demands will be met. These include the abolition of the agricultural tax increase, easier access to soft loans to support the liquidity of their farms, a 1,000 zloty per hectare corn subsidy, and regulation of the conditions for importing food from Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk emphasized the importance of ending the blockade, especially in the face of escalating bombing and increasingly intense Russian actions. He believes that the arguments will be better heard when Poland is not the country blocking the borders.

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EC allocates EUR 500 mln to Ukraine as part of budget support program

On Monday, the European Commission is signing a new budget support program with Ukraine in the amount of EUR 500 million.
The corresponding announcement in Brussels on Monday was made by the representative of the European Commission, Eric Mamer, talking about the documents to be signed within the meeting of the Council of the Ukraine-EU Association.
Mamer said on the sidelines of the Council, the European Commission is signing four sectoral agreements with Ukraine to further strengthen Ukraine’s cooperation with the EU. According to him, first, the European Commission and Ukraine are signing a new EUR 500 million budget support program as part of a pledge announced by the President as part of the Support Campaign for Ukraine in April and at a high-level conference held in Warsaw in May. This funding will guarantee housing and education for internally displaced persons, and will also support the agricultural sector, Mamer said.
The European Commission will also sign a number of other agreements. Among them is the participation of Ukraine in the European Union’s program “Digital Europe,” another agreement will allow Ukraine to participate in the tax program.


EC proposes to invite Ukraine to Common Transit Convention

The European Commission has put forward a draft EU proposal for Ukraine to be invited to join the Common Transit Conventions (CTC) – an international framework for the customs transit of goods that ensures simplified procedures between the EU and partner countries.
“Ukraine fulfils all relevant criteria for admittance to the Conventions, including legal, structural and IT requirements,” the draft EU proposal, adopted on Friday, says.
In the draft EU position paper adopted today, the Commission takes the view that “furthermore, accession to these Conventions is foreseen in the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and in the EU’s pre-accession strategy for Ukraine.”
The Conventions mean that goods can move much more easily between the EU and the seven so called Common Transit Countries (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and the UK).
In this way, the simplified rules, such as mutually recognised financial guarantees for customs transit and less controls, help to cut down on costs for EU and partner country businesses, while facilitating and boosting trade, the European Commission said in a press release.
Once endorsed by the EU Council, the EU’s position will be put forward to the highest body of the Conventions, the EU-CTC Joint Committees, made up of the EU and other CTC signatories, which can then formally invite Ukraine to join the Conventions by as early as 1 October.

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The EU is working on the creation of solidarity lines for the export of grain from Ukraine, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has said.
She has said that 20 million tonnes of wheat are stuck in Ukraine and must be taken out. Therefore, they have created and are working hard on solidarity lines that will make it possible to take out batches of this wheat through land routes and trains to their ports. This is not trivial and, of course, more tiring and more expensive, but it is necessary to take this grain out, von der Leyen said at a press conference following the Special Meeting of the European Council in Brussels on Tuesday.

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The European Commission has sent Ukraine the second tranche of macro-financial assistance in the amount of EUR600 million under the emergency assistance program, said EC President Ursula von der Leyen.
“Today we paid Ukraine a new tranche of macro-financial assistance in the amount of EUR600 million,” she wrote on Twitter on Friday.
“We have also offered an additional loan of EUR9 billion for Ukraine in 2022,” added von der Läen.
She also noted that the EU will work on a platform for the renewal of Ukraine.
The EU Council was reported to have expeditiously approved a € 1.2 billion macro-financial assistance package in February this year, with two disbursements of the first tranche of € 300 million in March.

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The EU has developed a plan for reverse gas supplies to Ukraine and Moldova in case these countries experience interruptions in supplies from Russia, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.
“She told reporters in Vienna that the EU in the current situation cannot consider Russia a trustworthy partner, and therefore interruptions are not ruled out,” the agency writes.
In addition, Simson noted that Brussels is assessing what difficulties the economies and citizens of the EU countries will face if this integration association imposes an embargo on oil supplies from Russia.

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