What did the Polish-Ukrainian talks bring?

Luc Williams

“It is very important that we agreed that this formula of talks should be permanent, because this way we will achieve our intended goals faster. Secondly, we started to identify places where there are real problems and places where there are not,” he emphasized.

Delegations of the ministries of agriculture of Poland and Ukraine, headed by ministers Czesław Siekierski and Mykola Solski, met in Warsaw on Wednesday, before Thursday's intergovernmental consultations, devoted to, among others, problems with the export of Ukrainian products to Poland and the European Union.

The Ukrainian minister announced that on the initiative of his ministry, representatives of Polish and Ukrainian agricultural organizations were invited to talks.

“If organizations initiate protests, it is good to gather everyone at one table, because this way we save time and can make the best decisions. That is why representatives of nearly 10 organizations from one side and 10 from the other side participated in the talks,” he explained.

Solski said that among the topics of negotiations were the issues of access of Ukrainian products to the Polish market. It was established, among others: that further talks on sugar will take place next week, on April 5. On this day, the parties will also talk about raspberries and juices.

“On the matter of honey, the presidents of the organization reached an agreement directly at this meeting (Wednesday). The Polish side explained how it sees trade with Ukraine, and the Ukrainian side agreed with it. Sales volumes were confirmed and announced in the presence of everyone,” said the Ukrainian minister.

However, the main topic of the meeting was grain, its sale from Ukraine to Poland and transit through Polish territory, Solski explained. As he said, regarding the sale, the Polish side was offered the same licensing mechanism that operates in the trade of Ukrainian grain with Romania and Bulgaria.

“If someone (from Ukraine) wants to import grain, rapeseed, sunflower or corn to Poland, he or she contacts us (the Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture). We are asking the Polish ministry whether Poland needs these cereals. If he doesn't need it, we don't transport it. And if needed, in what quantities. And on this basis we issue an export license,” he emphasized.

“Poles agree with this and have no fundamental objections to such a mechanism. We did not receive an answer when they would be ready to make a decision on this matter, but we did not press it either,” he said.

Most discussion was devoted to the issue of transit of Ukrainian grain through Poland. “A few weeks ago, the Polish Ministry of Agriculture announced that there are demands from Polish farmers to completely ban transit; back then it was all about corn and wheat. We said then that we were against it because we did not understand what purpose it would serve,” Solski reported.

The minister explained that in response he heard that, according to Polish farmers, if Ukrainian grain is not delivered via Poland to Germany and the Netherlands, grain prices will increase.

“I said then that this was wrong thinking. Prices in the world and in Poland are veins of one organism. If prices in Germany become higher than in other countries, more Brazilian, Argentinian, American, Ukrainian or Polish grain appears in Hamburg,” he explained.

Secondly, Solski continued, the transit of Ukrainian grain through Poland is small. “It is several hundred thousand tons. Before the New Year it was about half a million tons. But well, I said then, we will ask our traders to refrain from sending grain in transit through Poland,” he said.

However, Ukraine wants to implement the transit contracts that have already been signed, explained the minister. “Traders are no longer signing new contracts for transit to Gdańsk, which is practically empty today. They will use other routes. All Ukrainian grain exports over the last few months have been shipped by sea (on the Black Sea), he said.

Solski revealed that during negotiations in Warsaw regarding already concluded transit contracts, an agreement was almost reached. “The representatives of the organization themselves told us to start discussing the text of the statements. But this part failed. There were certain people who spoke out against it. Therefore, further rounds of talks will be necessary,” he said.

The Minister of Agriculture of Ukraine also assessed that the talks came closer to announcing the end of the blockades at the border. “I think that Polish organizations were ready for this. Of the 30 or so people who were there, about two or three people had a different opinion on the matter. Certain representatives at this meeting were, shall we say, in a different mood. But it's nothing terrible. The most important thing is that we came together and understood what the problem was. This is the most important achievement of these negotiations,” Solski said.


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