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  • Mykola Solskyi: Imposed restrictive measures should be lifted, solutions must be found in consultations with Ukraine’s participation
    Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, posted 31 May 2023 11:25

    Extending the EU’s ban on agricultural exports from Ukraine is not a solution to the problem of oversupply of Ukrainian grain to the neighbouring countries. Instead, such a decision can only exacerbate the problem. This was stated by Mykola Solskyi, Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, speaking at the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AgriFish) meeting held on 29-30 May in Brussels.

    According to the Minister, russia will definitely use the opportunity to further harm Ukraine and block sea routes, as it did immediately after the EU’s decision on the restrictions.

    “Our enemy is insidious and is fighting on all fronts, including the food front. On 8 May, immediately after the EU’s decision to impose the restrictions, the russians closed the grain corridor for 10 days. Following this decision, some ports have stopped operating. The port of Pivdennyi is blocked. We have to understand that by extending the ban we are automatically reducing the operation of the maritime grain corridor. Since the russians will obviously take advantage of this, we are aggravating the problem that we still have to solve together,” the Minister stressed.

    In his speech, Mykola Solskyi cited figures showing that the border countries that banned imports of Ukrainian agricultural products actually strengthened their export potential in 2022, increased domestic processing and improved the competitiveness of the livestock sector through imports from Ukraine. In particular, Poland increased its exports by more than a quarter to a record EUR 47.5 billion. Poultry production increased by 7.5%, also thanks to Ukrainian grain.

    “Poland, together with other Eastern European countries where restrictions were imposed, imported agricultural goods (agricultural and food products) from Ukraine to the value of EUR 7 billion. According to expert estimates, about EUR 3.5 billion of this amount consisted of cereals and oilseeds, which were exported to other countries after overloading. If we look at the export of grains and oilseeds alone, the share of Ukrainian transit is 80%. At the same time, the export of agricultural products from these five countries increased by EUR 18 billion in 2022,” Mykola Solskyi said.

    The Minister also noted that this year’s exports of cereals and oilseeds from Ukraine were expected to decrease by a third compared to last year, to 46 million tonnes per year. As a result, Ukraine will be able to export 40% less grain than last year.

    Mykola Solskyi stressed the need to conduct research in accordance with European rules before making such decisions. “We are absolutely ready for such studies, and we ask the EU to act according to the rules that the EU has established,” he said.

    He also noted that decisions should be in line with the provisions of the Association Agreement and EU legislation. “Political aspects should not be the main ones and should not dictate such decisions. Decisions should be made based on economic factors. We call for individual analysis and adoption of the most effective other solutions,” the Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine told his colleagues.

    “The restrictive measures imposed should be lifted. And sustainable solutions must be found in consultations with the participation of Ukraine. We must take all decisions together, respecting the principles of unity and the EU’s internal market regime,” the Minister concluded.

    Mykola Solskyi also called on his European colleagues to support the idea of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen to establish a consultation platform between Ukraine and the EU to secure the export of Ukrainian agricultural products, which, according to the President of the European Commission, will ensure elements of solidarity in its full functioning.

    He thanked the 14 agriculture ministers who signed a letter expressing their concerns about the European Commission’s approach to the issue.