Poland and Ukraine inch closer to agri trade deal

Poland and Ukraine inch closer to agri trade deal
Ukrainian PM Denys Shmyhal (left) at a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk, as Kyiv and Warsaw try to resolve their differences. / gov.pl
By bne IntelliNews March 29, 2024

Polish and Ukrainian leaders signalled progress towards resolving a trade dispute over agricultural imports that has sparked farmer protests in Poland and strained bilateral relations.

Polish farmers allege a surge of cheap Ukrainian imports has undermined their business and hit their livelihoods. Much of the grain intended for transit through Poland is being sold domestically instead, they also claim.

For Ukraine, however, the dispute ultimately harms its economy as the country fights an all-out war with Russia, now in its third year.

"We're nearing a solution regarding the volume of products allowed into Poland,” Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told a press conference after meeting his counterpart PM Denys Shmyhal.

For his part, Shmyhal described the talks as "extremely constructive.” 

The EU agreed earlier this week to extend tariff-free food imports from Ukraine, albeit with restrictions. 

The move came after certain countries, including Poland, expressed concerns about the potential destabilization of the bloc's agricultural markets under the original plan.

Polish farmers have been protesting against Ukrainian imports for months now. They are also leveraging the upcoming local and EU elections in Poland in which Tusk and other parties of his Coalition Government want to strengthen their political standing against the former opposition party Law and Justice (PiS).

In this vein, the Tusk government has spoken of nothing but support for the farmers, who also want Tusk to ensure the EU’s climate and environmental policy, known as the Green Deal, is watered down.

Experts have warned that weakening the Green Deal is short-sighted and will only worsen problems like drought and soil degradation over time.