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Ukraine needs an economy to survive and endure — former head of delegation to NATO PA on agricultural exports

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Estimated Reading Time: 3 min

On March 28th, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk met in Warsaw to discuss the import and transit of Ukrainian agricultural products through Poland, initiating efforts to find compromise solutions. The negotiations are ongoing.

Oksana Yurynets, former head of the Ukrainian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and MP of the VIII convocation, shared her insights on Hromadske Radio regarding the meeting.

«In fact, we negotiated to keep negotiating. It’s positive that such a meeting took place, especially since there were several separate platforms, each yielding some results. Both sides began to address the issues themselves, rather than relying on a third party, as is often the case. While we haven’t reached a full agreement on agricultural matters yet, certain statements made by deputy ministers from both Ukraine and Poland are being discussed in the Polish space. However, the outcome is that we’ve agreed to continue negotiations, and I hope the situation will evolve after April 7th and the local elections in Poland. Additionally, we discussed Ukraine’s integration into the EU and NATO. Perhaps today we’ll have more information and insights, as it’s crucial to understand how both Ukrainian and Polish sides interpret the talks. Ultimately, our relations with Poland should yield mutually beneficial results that consider the interests of each party».

For Ukraine, reaching an agreement with Poland and maintaining partnerships with it and other EU countries, even if it requires concessions, is crucial, according to Yurynets. Developing the economy and continuing European integration processes are key objectives.

«If European leaders fear that the European market is solely important for Ukraine, I believe that with the volumes we have, we utilize neighboring countries based on logistical capabilities, not just as markets. It’s because of the understanding that in Ukraine, it’s business, whereas in other countries, it’s almost a social program, as per their constitutions. There are concerns that Ukraine might gain significant competitive advantages in this market. However, when Poland joined the European Union, it faced similar challenges. These are old scenarios we must navigate, especially given the conditions of the war. Ukraine needs a robust economy to survive and endure. European countries that previously consumed Ukrainian agricultural products will also seek the best deals. I don’t think that what has been happening over the past six months will become the norm for the EU. On one hand, the EU aims to assist the Ukrainian economy, while on the other hand, individual national farms pursue their own interests», — Yurynets explains.

According to the State Customs Service of Ukraine, in 2023, Ukraine exported agri-food products (groups 1-24 of UCGFEA, as well as casein, albumin, skins, fur, wool, etc.) worth $22.1 billion. In 2022, Ukraine exported $23.6 billion worth of agri-food, which is 15% less than the record figure of $27.9 billion in 2021.

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