Restricting Agricultural Products from Ukraine: A Less Than Satisfactory Compromise

Belgian farmers stand next to their tractors during a protest over price pressures, taxes and green regulation, on the day of an EU agriculture ministers’ meeting in Brussels, Belgium March 26, 2024. REUTERS/Yves Herman

We believe this new agreement represents a difficult compromise to reach for all EU member states, given that all decisions must be made by consensus. Of course, Ukraine cannot be entirely satisfied with some provisions of the agreements concluded, considering that agricultural exports in the context of a large-scale war are essential for our economy, which is in a state of survival due to the war that Russia has waged for three consecutive years.

Ukraine is an agricultural country and a reliable partner of the EU in terms of agricultural imports, so imposing duties on the largest groups of goods it exports to the EU, even under certain conditions, will have a significant impact on the profits of the Ukrainian economy. Nevertheless, given the current situation, the maintenance of the duty-free trade regime between Kyiv and the EU is indeed a proof of solidarity. This decision, I am convinced, is a compromise decision, and I regret that Ukrainian farmers may feel its negative consequences as early as this year.

Agricultural exports constitute a critical area for the foreign currency revenue of the Ukrainian budget, which is already almost entirely focused on defense funding. We have witnessed the unscrupulous behavior of certain neighboring countries that have blocked the border for months and paralyzed transport links, causing billions of dollars in losses to Ukraine. These actions were inspired from the outside and aimed at stabbing us in the back.

The situation of restrictions on exports from Ukraine has become the object of political manipulation and outright blackmail by certain pro-Russian political forces, for whom their own profits are more precious than human lives, and this is very regrettable, indeed. That’s why the decision made is today the only way to maintain the balance of agricultural trade between Kyiv and Brussels. Ukraine is a strong country, and I am convinced that we will overcome these difficulties and that we will fully resume trade in the agricultural sector because it is a mutually beneficial cooperation.

Ukraine is the EU’s third agricultural partner. These agricultural products and raw materials have long been renowned for their high quality and relatively low cost. Therefore, their presence on the European market supports many large and medium-sized businesses that process products and resell them. Furthermore, Ukraine plays an important role in supplying the EU market with cereals and grains, contributing to the sustainable development of food security.

I am convinced that trade relations between Kyiv and Brussels have a promising future, based on mutual respect and reciprocal benefits for the parties. Customs restrictions are temporary, despite all possible political manipulations by certain actors. The main thing is that EU leaders, the majority of politicians, and European citizens know that Ukraine, which is defending against the aggressor, needs help because Putin’s war could come knocking on their door. I am convinced that the EU will remain a strategic partner and that our relations, including in the field of agriculture, will expand. The most important thing today is victory over Putin. It will solve many of the problems he wants to inflict on us. But he will not succeed.


Marta VOOR Europa:

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