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Ukrainian farmers cannot or do not want to defend their rights in an organized manner, as do agricultural producers in EU countries

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Businesses in EU countries in 2024 continue to put pressure on their governments and the European Commission in an organized manner with demands to limit the entry of Ukrainian agricultural products into their markets. As noted logistics market expert, member of the Logistics Committee of the European Business Association (EBA) Yuri Shuklin, On January 10, six public organizations of EU agricultural producers addressed the European Commission with a joint statement, calling the import of products from Ukraine a threat to the survival of European producers and demanding that it be limited. Also, Romanian farmers have joined the “friendly” policy of the EU countries along the perimeter of our border, already blocking two checkpoints.

The expert recalled that problems with closing the borders of our agricultural products began at the beginning of last year. However, during all this time, there have been no reactions from the Ukrainian agricultural business to this that are at least minimally commensurate with the actions of businesses on the other side of the border.

According to Yuri Shuklin, there are several reasons why the agribusiness of Poland, and now Romania, knows how to protect their rights and demands concessions from their governments, while the Ukrainian one does not protest and does not express its attitude to this situation at all. The reasons are not the war.

The expert said that one of the organizations that signed the application to the European Commission demanding to limit the import of Ukrainian agricultural products is COPA-COGECA, which unites trade unions of agricultural producers and the confederation of agricultural cooperatives of EU countries. This powerful lobbying group for European farmers has existed for over 60 years and forces governments to take their position into account.

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Ukrainian small agricultural producers, who make up 53% of the market, have been unable to consolidate and defend their interests in an organized manner for more than 30 years of independence, says Shuklin. In his opinion, a significant part of small agricultural producers are focused exclusively on production and do not want to delve into the cause-and-effect relationships between Ukraine’s economic policy (or rather the lack thereof) and the profitability of their business.

According to Yuri Shuklin, another specific feature of our agricultural market is due to its mentality and values: the most successful are those who negotiate the best conditions for themselves, rather than achieve changes for the better for everyone. Ukrainian farmers are disunited, divided into different associations, and in each association there is always a player who wants to absorb everyone else. As a result, the activity of the Ministry of Agricultural Policy is not visible, but only a statement of existing problems. After all, business owners and manufacturers do not demand a change in the rules.

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In 2022, Ukraine exported products worth $44.15 billion and imported $55.27 billion, and the negative foreign trade balance amounted to $11.3 billion. There are no statistics for the entire 2023 yet, but the trend of another decline in exports is obvious: in January-October 2023, imports of goods to Ukraine ($52.2 billion) were almost twice as high as exports ($29.8 billion).

Ukrainian farmers are experiencing several crises at the same time (war, expensive logistics, destruction of routes to world markets, blockade along the perimeter of the EU borders), but cannot unite to force the government to pursue a policy that will save their business in such difficult conditions, he said expert. Shuklin is confident that until Ukrainian producers learn to unite and defend their fair demands and become subjects of economic policy (like farmers in Poland, Romania and other EU countries), they will only be an object of pressure, and from all sides. And only two or three agricultural oligarchs will survive in such conditions.

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Let us add that the other day the Romanian Minister of Agriculture, Florin Barbu, said that he had agreed with farmers to lift the blockade on the Ukrainian border, but for this the government had to make concessions on subsidies and excise taxes.

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Author: Alexander LESCHENKO, “FACTS”

Source: Fakty

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