Ukraine's agricultural unions are urging their government to take all necessary steps to safeguard their unhindered access to the European market for their food products, according to a statement by the UCAB association on Monday.
In a recent announcement, the European Commission extended the suspension of import duties on Ukrainian exports, which was initially implemented to support Ukraine's economy following Russia's invasion two years ago. This extension is set to last until June 2025. However, the Commission also introduced measures aimed at curbing agricultural imports from Ukraine while providing more flexibility regarding fallow land rules. These measures were introduced in response to protests by discontented farmers in several EU member states, including France.
The UCAB business association emphasized the significance of these preferences for Ukraine's agricultural sector. They have enabled Ukrainian exporters to sustain production, retain jobs, and ensure foreign exchange earnings during the years 2022-2023. Food product exports from Ukraine in 2023 amounted to $21.9 billion, representing 61% of all Ukrainian exports. Furthermore, the EU's share of total agricultural product imports from Ukraine in 2023 reached $12.4 billion, accounting for 56.6% of the total.
The issue of preserving open access to the EU market holds immense importance for Ukraine's trade balance in the foreseeable future and the survival of its agricultural sector, as highlighted by UCAB. In light of these developments, the agricultural community is urging authorities to facilitate continued preferential access to the EU market for Ukrainian agricultural products and establish a direct dialogue with European partners.
It's worth noting that the EU initially suspended import duties, quotas, and trade defense measures in June 2022. However, the influx of low-priced Ukrainian grain exports has triggered protests from governments, farmers, and truckers in neighboring countries like Poland and Hungary. Ukraine, being a significant global producer and exporter of agricultural goods, traditionally relied on sea routes to supply food to countries in North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
The disruption caused by the Russian invasion, which blocked Ukraine's main Black Sea ports, forced the country to redirect its shipments through land borders, resulting in some products settling in neighboring markets and impacting prices. These recent developments highlight the challenges and complexities surrounding Ukraine's agricultural exports and their vital role in the global market.