Poland called on the European Union to help boost port capacity to allow more Ukrainian grain shipments through the Baltic Sea, while insisting it will keep a sales ban on its neighbor’s crops.
(Bloomberg) — Poland called on the European Union to help boost port capacity to allow more Ukrainian grain shipments through the Baltic Sea, while insisting it will keep a sales ban on its neighbor’s crops.
Ukraine grain exports through Polish ports climbed to 260,000 tons in June, according to Agriculture Minister Robert Telus. That’s more than double levels seen earlier this year and likely to increase as Russia’s exit from the Black Sea grain deal forces Ukraine to seek alternative routes.
“We need to help Ukraine and we understand that,” Telus said in an interview in Warsaw. “We are thinking of building ports that will be exclusively for grain transportation, so-called agro-ports.”
Poland is already in early talks with neighboring Lithuania about moving phytosanitary controls from its border to Lithuanian ports, a move aimed at speeding up the transit of Ukrainian grains. While Baltic Sea terminals are an alternative, the “bulk of shipments will still pass more through southern ports,” he said.
Telus reiterated that Poland won’t end a domestic ban on Ukraine grain sales when it expires in mid-September. That sets up Warsaw for a fresh showdown with Brussels, which has sought to limit the five-nation ban it approved in response to plummeting prices to a temporary measure. Ukraine has repeatedly called on the EU to end the restriction, which doesn’t apply to goods transiting those countries.
The minister was frustrated by what he called EU efforts to portray Poland and the coalition as only looking out for their own interests. “We need to build real solidarity corridors through which Ukrainian products will go deep into Europe,” he said.
While the glut caused by a surge in imports from Ukraine earlier this year has now been cleared, Telus expects silos to fill up quickly given that prices remain low as Polish farmers collect their 2023 harvests.
“The lifting of the ban would only be possible if Poland began to run out of grain,” he said, adding there is no such risk.
–With assistance from Piotr Bujnicki.
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