Poland seeks to step up grain exports to Africa, Middle East: deputy FM

The Polish government is in talks with countries in Africa and the Middle East about increasing grain exports as it seeks to free up storage space ahead of this year’s harvest, amid an influx of Ukrainian grain, a deputy foreign minister has said.  

Paweł Jabłoński.

Paweł Jabłoński. PAP/Leszek Szymański

Paweł Jabłoński made the statement in an interview with the wp.pl website on Tuesday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

He told wp.pl that „the issue of grain exports” was „linked to the issue of the transport of Ukrainian grain through Poland.”

He said that Polish leaders would discuss „the latter issue” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during his visit Poland on Wednesday.  

Jabłoński said Poland sought “to receive support from Ukraine” in ensuring that grain transported from Ukraine through Poland “will be reaching the countries of destination in Asia or Africa, rather than entering the Polish market.”

The deputy foreign minister declared: “We don’t want to close the border and block these export transports completely. On the contrary, we seek to support Ukraine in the export of its grain.”

He added: “But we also need support from their side, for Ukraine to take appropriate measures to ensure that those who buy this grain don’t engage in various dishonest practices afterwards.” 

Poland to step up grain exports to Africa amid interest from importers 

Jabłoński said that Poland was seeking to increase grain exports to countries in Africa, including South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

He added: “We are also in talks about exporting grain to more countries. Further shipments are being prepared.”

Jabłoński told wp.pl that various customers were interested in buying more Polish grain, while talks were also under way with potential new importers in northern Africa, such as Morocco, as well as in the Persian Gulf, with countries such as Saudi Arabia, according to the PAP news agency.

Poland grapples with influx of Ukrainian grain

Ukraine, which is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, had its Black Sea ports blocked following the Russian invasion in February last year and it found alternative shipping routes through Poland and Romania, the Reuters news agency reported. 

Poland has admitted some 2.8 million tonnes of grain from Ukraine, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported last week.

Due to logistics bottlenecks, large quantities of Ukrainian grain, which is cheaper than that produced in the EU, remain in central European countries, hurting prices and sales of local farmers, Reuters reported.

Poland, four other EU countries call for EU curbs on Ukrainian grain 

On March 31, Poland and four other European Union countries issued a letter to the EU’s executive Commission, demanding that the European bloc place restrictions on Ukrainian grain imports.

In a document addressed to European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the leaders of Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia argued that, given the scale of the problems caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine, some form of restrictions on the volume of Ukrainian grain imports needed to be introduced.

„On trade mechanisms, we propose to amend the current legal basis for agricultural imports from Ukraine to introduce the possibility of regulating the volume and direction of excessive inflows of agricultural products,” they wrote.

In addition, the five leaders called for increased financial support for farmers, the PAP news agency reported.

They argued that „it is necessary to significantly increase the amount of EU funds allocated to EU support measures.”

Additional funds are needed because the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy and national budgets „are insufficient,” the letter said.

Its signatories called for new sources of funding, in addition to planned emergency measures, to support agricultural producers who have suffered losses and are at risk of losing financial liquidity, the Polish state news agency reported.

On March 30, Poland’s Morawiecki said he had instructed his Agriculture Minister Henryk Kowalczyk “to very quickly set out rules that will allow us to sell some of the grain that has accumulated in Poland, to sell it in North Africa and the Middle East, which was its original destination.”

He added: “I also instructed the deputy prime minister to introduce appropriate regulations that will allow us to limit the influx of Ukrainian grain to Poland.”

Influx of Ukrainian grain has subsided: deputy PM

Meanwhile, the Polish agriculture minister told reporters on Tuesday that the inflow of Ukrainian grain into Poland “has subsided over the past two weeks.”

Kowalczyk told private broadcaster Polsat News: “According to statistics from the National Tax Administration (KAS), the import of grain from Ukraine has fallen dramatically over the past two weeks, by three or four times, due to the system of grain controls.”

Polish gov’t allocates EUR 128 million to help domestic wheat, corn producers

Kowalczyk reaffirmed his pledge that the government would start to buy up grain from April 12, allocating PLN 600 million (EUR 128 million) from the central budget to support domestic producers of wheat and corn. 

He said: “I declared that the buy-up scheme would be launched on April 12 at the latest … Today the parliamentary Public Finances Committee will approve the first PLN 600 million (EUR 128 million) for this scheme.”

At a meeting with protesting farmers last week, Kowalczyk proposed 11 measures to stabilise Poland’s grain market following the recent inflow of produce from Ukraine, including asking the EU to restore tariffs for Ukrainian grain; earmarking PLN 600 million (EUR 128 million) to support wheat and corn producers; and stepping up border controls, according to officials.

Asked by Polsat News on Tuesday about the combined cost of these measures, Kowalczyk said: “So far it’s around PLN 2 billion (EUR 430 million).”    

(pm/gs)

Source: PAP, bankier.plportalspozywczy.pl

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