The Ukrainian Agri Council together with members of the Ukrainian Agrarian Forum (PU "Agrarian Union of Ukraine", Association "Union of Poultry Breeders of Ukraine", NGO "Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation" and Association "Ukrainian Agribusiness Club") appealed to the Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal to facilitate the extension of preferential access of Ukrainian agri-food products to the EU market and establish a direct dialogue with European partners.
The farmers emphasize that on June 6, 2024, the EU's additional trade preferences for Ukraine will expire, under which existing customs tariffs and tariff quotas for all categories of goods were abolished for Ukrainian exports. For the agri-food sector, these preferences were particularly important, eliminating a number of tariff quotas on imports to the EU market for key exports, from grains and oilseeds to sugar, poultry, eggs, fruit and vegetables, enabling Ukrainian exporters to maintain production and jobs and ensure foreign exchange earnings during 2022-2023.
On January 31, 2024, the European Commission officially published a draft EU Regulation on the extension for the next calendar year (from June 6, 2024 to June 5, 2025) of autonomous trade preferences (hereinafter referred to as ATP) for Ukraine (the text is attached). Unfortunately, the draft regulation introduces restrictions on imports to the EU of certain groups of goods (chicken, sugar and chicken eggs) that are "sensitive" for European agricultural producers. In particular, it is proposed to restore the tariff quotas agreed under the EU-Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (hereinafter - the DCFTA) for these product groups if, starting from January 1, 2024, the volume of their imports from Ukraine exceeds the arithmetic mean of imports for 2022-2023. Starting from January 1, 2025, in case of further excess of imports, it is proposed to continue to apply tariff quotas under the DCFTA between Ukraine and the EU or quotas in the amount of 5/12 of the arithmetic mean imports for 2022-2023.
In accordance with EU law, this draft Regulation still needs to be considered by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers. There are well-founded concerns that European agricultural associations, as well as dissatisfied neighboring Member States, will try to further worsen the restrictions proposed by the European Commission and extend them to imports of grains and oilseeds (press release on this issue by the European farmers' association COPA COGECA and letter from the Minister of Agriculture of Poland C. Sekierski are attached).
At the same time, according to the State Customs Service, Ukraine's exports of agri-food products in 2023 amounted to USD 21.9 billion. USD and accounted for 61% of total exports of goods from Ukraine (against 23.4 billion USD and 53% of total exports of goods). USD and, accordingly, 53% of total exports of goods in 2022). The share of the EU in total exports of agri-food products from Ukraine in 2023 amounted to 56.6% (55.1% in 2022) or 12.4 billion USD. USD (12.9 billion USD in 2022). Therefore, the issue of maintaining the most open access for Ukrainian agri-food products to the EU market will be vital for Ukraine's trade balance in the coming years and the survival of Ukraine's agricultural sector.
Farmers ask the Prime Minister:
- consider the possibility of an official appeal of the Government of Ukraine to the Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander de Kroo (as the country presiding in the EU Council), President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and Vice-President of the European Commission for Trade V. Dombrovskis on the importance of EU trade preferences for the Ukrainian economy and prevention of deterioration of trade conditions between Ukraine and the EU;
- to send proposals to the Office of the President of Ukraine to include in the agenda of the next EU-Ukraine Summit the extension of autonomous trade preferences for Ukrainian agri-food products with minimal restrictions and the preservation of the EU-Ukraine Trade Coordination Platform as the main platform for the exchange of information on current trade issues.
In turn, all member organizations of the Ukrainian Agrarian Forum will make efforts to establish a direct dialogue with European farmers' and agro-producers' associations and to find compromise solutions in bilateral trade relations.Tuesday, 6 February 2024