France backs push to curb grain imports from Ukraine – Politico

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Poland’s prime minister previously called for an end to preferential trade rules granted to Kiev due to the conflict with Moscow

France has supported Poland’s call for further restrictions on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products, Politico reported on Monday, citing three EU diplomats. This comes as mass protests by Polish farmers continue across the country.

According to the diplomats, French President Emmanuel Macron and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk agreed to align their positions ahead of critical debates aimed at reaching an accord on the controversial issue of trade with Ukraine. The negotiations are scheduled for Tuesday.

The potential curbs are expected to cost Ukraine €1.2 billion in trade revenue, two of the diplomats said, citing estimates by the European Commission. Politico claimed that the move could dampen unity in the EU over support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.

Shortly after the launch of Moscow’s military operation against Kiev, the commission temporarily lifted all duties and quotas on Ukrainian goods for a period of one year to allow its agricultural products to be shipped on to global markets. However, much of the supply has instead flooded Eastern European countries, destabilizing markets in the bloc and endangering the livelihoods of local farmers.

In 2023, Brussels prolonged the measure for another year despite angry protests from EU farmers who were hurt by the flow of cheap Ukrainian agricultural products.

Earlier this month, the European Parliament Trade Committee backed a proposal to extend the special trade regime once again for Ukraine until June 2025. The decision will need final approval at a session of the European Parliament in April.

In response, Warsaw, which had unilaterally halted Ukrainian food imports along with Hungary and Slovakia following the protests of local farmers, demanded that the rules for Kiev should be returned to the way they were before the conflict with Moscow began. Tusk pledged earlier this month to push for changes to protect Polish and EU markets and producers.

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