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Ukraine voices concerns over grain supply restrictions

Ukraine sent notes to key allies, the European Union and Poland on Friday, protesting over restrictions on its grain supplies. Soon after the European Commission announced later in the day that a deal had been reached to resolve the matter.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday it had sent notes to the Polish Embassy and EU representative office in Kyiv on Friday, expressing disappointment with the situation and saying restrictions on its grain exports via the European trade bloc were “categorically unacceptable”.

The EC said on Friday afternoon it had reached a deal in principle to allow the transit of Ukrainian grain to resume through five EU countries that had imposed restrictions.

Ukraine’s position

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said on Saturday in response to a question from Reuters that the notes had been sent before the Commission’s announcement.

There must be [unhindered] export for all Ukrainian goods,” he said.

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“There are full legal grounds for the immediate resumption of exports of Ukrainian agricultural goods to Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Bulgaria, as well as the continuation of unhindered exports to other EU member states,” the Ukrainian FM said in an emailed statement on Saturday.

Polish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Łukasz Jasina said that the Ukrainian position had not yet been delivered to the Polish ministry. “Our embassy has not provided us with any information yet. We will evaluate it when it does provide the note,” he said.

EU reaches deal on Ukrainian grain ban

Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki said on Friday that a compromise was reached during his Friday talks with European Council head Charles Michel, in which he informed Michel about the situation Ukrainian grain has caused on the Polish market.

Morawiecki said that under the new agreement, grain, as well as other agricultural products from Ukraine, will be “covered by appropriate instruments by the EC.”

Valdis Dombrovskis, the EC vice-president and trade commissioner, confirmed the compromise agreement on Friday on Twitter. Dombrovskis wrote that similar agreements have also been reached with Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, who have also blocked incoming Ukrainian grain.

According to him, the key elements of the deal include, among others, the withdrawal of unilateral measures introduced earlier by four countries, the introduction of safeguard measures for four products: wheat, maize, rapeseed, sunflower seed, and a EUR 100-million support package for affected farmers in the five member states.

✅Safeguard investigations on some other products incl. 🌻 oil.

✅Work to ensure export to other countries via solidarity lanes

Thanks to teams workings with @jwojc & @EUTrade @EUAgri


— Valdis Dombrovskis (@VDombrovskis) April 28, 2023

EC President, Ursula von der Leyen wrote on Twitter that she was convinced the new agreement will “preserve both Ukraine’s export capacity so it continues feeding the world, and our farmers’ livelihoods.”

I welcome the agreement in principle found on the transit of 4 types of Ukrainian grain and seeds.

A deal that preserves both Ukraine’s exports capacity so it continues feeding the world, and our farmers’ livelihoods.

Thank you @VDombrovskis and @jwojc for your efforts.

— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) April 28, 2023

Poland and Ukraine will resolve this issue

“The agreement that is binding for us is the one the Prime Minister [Mateusz Morawiecki] and other leaders reached with the European Union, striving to care for the well-being of our farmers and settle all issues so that all parties are satisfied,” the Polish FM spokesman said.

According to him, “this matter will certainly be resolved between the Polish and Ukrainian sides.”

Poles and Ukrainians always tell each other the truth. All difficult and controversial issues are resolved together and in agreement,” Jasina added.

In imposing restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Bulgaria have cited concerns that grain from Ukraine meant to be exported to other countries have ended up in their local markets, pushing down prices for local farmers.

Poland and the four other countries have also asked the EU to implement restrictions on imports of Ukrainian foods and said this would allow them to lift their own bans.

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