Poland calls on EU to help Ukrainian grain transit through Baltic Sea
Poland has called on the European Union to help boost port capacity to expand Ukrainian grain shipments through the Baltic Sea, its agriculture minister Robert Telus told Bloomberg in an interview.
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Mr Telus said Ukraine grain exports through Polish ports reached 260,000 tons in June, which is more than double that 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. We are thinking of building ports that will be exclusively for grain transportation, so-called agro-ports," he told Bloomberg.
Poland is already in early talks with neighbouring Lithuania about moving phytosanitary controls from its border to Lithuanian ports to speed up the transit of Ukrainian grains.
While Baltic Sea terminals are an alternative, the "bulk of shipments will still pass more through southern ports," the Polish agriculture minister explained.
Mr Telus also confirmed that Poland would not lift its domestic ban on Ukraine grain sales when it expires on 15 September, saying he 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.
The official added that the situation with grain prices in Poland is now resolved, but as Polish farmers collect their 2023 harvests, he expects the silos will fill up quickly, adding to the pressure.
"The lifting of the ban would only be possible if Poland began to run out of grain," Mr Telus stressed.
The prospect of using ports far from Ukraine for grain exports was already considered last year.
Earlier this year, in anticipation of the new harvest, Ukrainian government representatives held talks with the European Union and asked for compensation for transit to the ports of Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, the Netherlands, and the Adriatic ports of Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy.
Last week, the Ukrainian Grain Association proposed to the EU commission that alternative routes for grain exports be created from Ukraine through European ports with further shipment to third countries.