Polish EU Commissioner Threatens to Block Ukraine's Duty-Free Trade with EU

Monday, 8 January 2024

Janusz Wojciechowski, the European Commissioner for Agriculture, has warned of a new crisis that could be triggered by excessive agricultural imports from Ukraine to the EU, saying he may not support a new European Commission (EC) regulation on the extension of duty-free trade with Ukraine.

As reported by RMF FM, a letter from Wojciechowski to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Valdis Dombrovskis, EC Vice-President for Trade, sets out the Polish commissioner's position on the proposed new EC regulation on extending the duty-free trade regime with Ukraine.

RMF FM has unofficially learned that Janusz Wojciechowski will not support the regulation unless his proposals are taken into account. The EC's internal consultations on this issue end tomorrow.

Wojciechowski is proposing that the new regulation should contain safeguard provisions similar to those that the EC applied in the past to imports of Ukrainian rapeseed, maize, sunflower and wheat.

The Polish commissioner is also advocating for quantitative restrictions on sugar and poultry, imports of which, he believes, are growing rapidly and threaten to destabilise the EU market.

"The extension of trade privileges for Ukraine under the EU regulation, which expires this year, without safeguards and quantitative restrictions threatens to trigger a new crisis of excess imported agricultural products from Ukraine," Wojciechowski said in the letter.

The European Commissioner noted that the EU "should rethink the concept of its aid, which implies unlimited openness". He blames the current state of affairs on Russia, which is blockading the Black Sea and pushing Ukraine out of its traditional markets in Asia and Africa.

Wojciechowski reiterated his proposal to support the transit of Ukrainian grain to EU seaports from which it can be transported on to African and Asian markets.

The European Commission announced in September that it would not extend restrictions on agricultural imports from Ukraine beyond 15 September, but Kyiv agreed to take measures to restrict imports from its side.

Despite this, PolandHungary and Slovakia have decided to impose unilateral restrictions, with Warsaw saying their restrictions will remain in place indefinitely. Slovakia’s ban will last until the end of the year.

The European Commission said in late November that it has observed no adverse effects of Ukrainian agricultural imports on European markets.

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