Ukraine says it looks forward to swiftly speeding up exports of grain and other farm products under a deal that will shift some border checks from its busy frontier with Poland to the Lithuanian Baltic port of Klaipeda, Reuters reported on October 3.
Under the agreement, which Kyiv said had been reached with Lithuania and Poland, Ukrainian agricultural cargo destined for shipping to the world from Klaipeda will no longer undergo veterinary and sanitary checks as they enter Poland in transit.
Instead, the compulsory checks, intended to come into effect in the coming days, will be carried out at Klaipeda, the Ukrainian agriculture ministry said in a statement.
“This will speed up transit through the territory of Poland,” it quoted Agriculture Minister Mykola Solsky as saying after talks with the Polish and Lithuanian ministers, Robert Telus and Kyastutis Navickas.
“Robert Telus and Kyastutis Navickas noted that their governments support such a control mechanism and consider it a constructive step,” the statement said.
While the deal is intended to speed up Ukrainian grain exports, it will not end Kyiv’s search for alternative export routes since its Black Sea ports become blockaded following Russia’s full-scale invasion last year.
Ukraine, a major global grain producer and exporter, usually relies heavily on its deep Black Sea ports for exports. But its ability to get its goods to the world has been severely dented by 19 months of war and by Moscow’s decision to quit a U.N.-brokered deal on safe Black Sea exports in July.
Relations with Warsaw have also soured since it banned Ukrainian food imports, citing the need to protect its own farmers, although it still allows the transit of Ukrainian goods through Poland en route to other countries.
Ukraine is still trying to secure a deal with Warsaw in the dispute over the import restrictions, imposed by the Polish government before a parliamentary election on October 15.
Poland and other eastern European countries are not usually big markets for Ukrainian grain shipments, but supplies to these countries have grown significantly since the wartime blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports deprived Kyiv of traditional markets in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Income from food exports is usually vital for Ukraine’s economy, but the volume of Ukrainian food supplies to foreign markets in September fell by 3% compared to August, the UCAB business association said on October 3.
It said 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, Reuters said.