Ukraine agrees to halt grain exports to Poland – official

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The influx of cheap Ukrainian grain has lowered prices and hurt sales for farmers in Eastern Europe

Poland will temporarily halt imports of Ukrainian grain, in a bid to ease the impact of plummeting prices after cheap produce from the war-torn nation flooded Eastern European markets, Polish Agriculture Minister Robert Telus said on Friday.

Kiev has “agreed to limit and for now halt exports to Poland,” Telus told reporters after meeting his Ukrainian counterpart, adding that “transit will be allowed but will be closely monitored in both countries, so that Ukraine’s grain doesn’t stay in Poland.”

Telus took office on Thursday, a day after his predecessor Henryk Kowalczyk resigned from his post, amid rising anger among Polish farmers over the glut of cheap Ukrainian crops.

Farmers in Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Bulgaria have suffered substantial losses due to the surge in imports of Ukrainian grain that was initially destined for Africa and the Middle East, but instead has been stuck in Eastern Europe.

On Friday, thousands of Bulgarian and Romanian farmers blocked border crossings into Ukraine, in protest against the influx of supplies.

Last May the EU suspended customs duties on all agricultural produce from Ukraine for one year, to support the nation’s economy. However, the glut of cheap grain left EU producers struggling against what they view as unfair competition.

Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller pledged on Friday that in the coming days, authorities would develop “mechanisms that will stop such grain exports that have led to a destabilization on the Polish food market.”

Last month, the prime ministers of five EU states including Poland wrote to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen demanding action on Ukrainian agricultural imports, and urging her to reintroduce tariffs to prevent a further influx of Ukrainian grain.

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