WARSAW, Poland (AP) Five European Union countries will extend their ban on Ukrainian grain imports to protect farmers’ interests, their countries’ agriculture ministers said Wednesday, but food can still travel through their lands to parts of the world in need after Russia’s withdrawal. From a deal to protect Black Sea shipments.
The ministers of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria signed a joint declaration ahead of EU discussions on this issue to be held next week in Brussels. The declaration said that they are in favor of continuing to allow Ukrainian grain to pass through its borders by road, rail and river to destinations that need it, but will maintain the ban on imports to their countries until 2023.
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“This alliance is not against anyone, not against Ukraine or the European Union, it is in the interest of our farmers,” Polish Agriculture Minister Robert Tellos said after meeting his counterparts in Warsaw, where they decided to push the ban beyond 9/11. Deadline 15.
With the exception of Bulgaria, all countries border Ukraine, which faced a major blow on Monday when Russia withdrew from a breakthrough deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to allow Ukrainian food to be shipped across the Black Sea to countries where millions are starving. Ukraine is a major exporter of wheat, barley, vegetable oil and corn.
The five agriculture ministers and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, whom they met, said that Ukrainian grain had previously been stuck in their countries, creating a glut that drove down prices for their farmers, and they did not want that to happen again.
The ministers urged the European Union to put in place mechanisms that would deliver Ukrainian grain and other foodstuffs to their destinations without harming the agricultural industry of the transit countries.
“Today, the European Union must build appropriate legal tools and infrastructure to regulate the transportation of Ukrainian grain in the long term,” Tellos said.
“We want to help Ukraine cross,” he said.
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EU Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski, Poland’s former agriculture minister, said on Twitter in May that around 4.1 million tonnes of Ukrainian corn, barley and canola grain arrived in Poland from April 2022 through March 2023, with 3.4 million tonnes remaining there and only 100 million tons. About 700 tons are moving.
Farmers launched protests and countries passed a unilateral ban in April without EU approval, threatening European unity in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The European Union later struck a deal allowing countries to temporarily ban some agricultural products from Ukraine and provide more aid to farmers. The grain is allowed to move to other markets in sealed, sealed transfers.
The EU ban has brought “unexpectedly good effects for all of us,” Tellos said, noting that the figures show a doubling of Ukrainian grain moving through Poland this year.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Grain Association has pushed for more grain to be sent up the Danube to neighboring Romania’s Black Sea ports, saying monthly exports along that route could be doubled to 4 million metric tons.
But Cesar George, founder of the Romanian grain analyzer company AGRIColumn, said this was “not possible”.
He said that between March 2022 and June 2023, about 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain passed through the Romanian ports of Constanta, Galati and Brela – the maximum that could be handled.
“Ukraine will also need to distribute the money through Poland, Hungary and Slovakia – it’s simple arithmetic,” said George Győrgy. “We will stand by Ukraine, but with our limitations.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday that she was “very concerned about Russia’s move to end the Black Sea Grain Initiative,” emphasizing that “the risk is that it brings food insecurity to many vulnerable countries around the world.”
“The European Union will continue, by all means, to work to ensure food security for vulnerable groups,” she said.
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Von der Leyen said more than 45 million metric tons of cereals, oilseeds and other products were exported across Europe.
The Black Sea Grains Initiative, brokered in an effort to end a global food crisis triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine, has allowed an additional 32.9 million metric tons to reach the world, according to the United Nations.
Von der Leyen stressed that “it is important to stop the closure of the Black Sea” and that exports can continue through this route.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday that his government was working on solutions to continue exporting through the Black Sea despite Russia’s withdrawal of safety guarantees for the ships.
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