Poland bans grain from Ukraine amid a surplus of cheaper imports from neighbor

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Poland has banned imports of grain and other food products from Ukraine “to protect the Polish agricultural market against destabilization,” the Polish prime minister’s office said.

Ukraine responded to the move by saying it “regrets the decision of its Polish counterparts” and was ready to cooperate with Poland in an investigation of any possible abuses.

When Russia invaded Ukraine it blocked ports and sea routes used to export Ukrainian grain to Africa and the Middle East.

Fearing widespread famine, the European Union lifted duties on grain from Ukraine to ease distribution to those global markets.

Ukrainian grain has since flowed into Poland but much of it has remained in the country, bringing down the price and causing Polish farmers to suffer significant financial losses.

Farmers across central and eastern Europe have been demonstrating against Ukrainian grain imports.

Protesters blocked traffic and border checkpoints with tractors along the border between Romania and Bulgaria, in an effort to prevent Ukrainian trucks from entering their country.

Policemen and border guards protect a train carrying Ukrainian grain at the broad-gauge railway line crossing in Hrubieszow, Poland, on April 12, 2023.

Local producers say they cannot compete with the price of Ukrainian grain and have demanded compensation from the European Commission.

Anger grew after the European Commission announced a draft decision to extend duty-free and quota-free imports of Ukrainian grain until June 2024, prompting the resignation of the Polish agriculture minister.

There has been similar opposition in Bulgaria, where producers have complained of warehouses full of products they cannot sell.

“Bulgaria is in solidarity with Ukraine, but a local glut is being created on the agricultural market, because instead of export corridors our countries are becoming warehouses,” Bulgaria’s agriculture minister Yavor Gechev said.

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