Andrius Kubilius. When Protests Make One Dizzy

2024-03-04 | Ukraine, European Union

Polish farmers have decided to block Lithuanian borders.

As it is known, the Polish authorities are not stopping them from blocking the Ukrainian borders for a long time, which is neither morally nor politically acceptable. Even humanitarian aid from Lithuania cannot reach Ukraine because Polish farmers are fighting their supposedly ‘just’ battles.

The consequences of the Polish Government’s acquiescence to the Polish blockades on the Ukrainian border are entirely in line with the proverb: “Give an inch, they’ll take a mile”, and now they have decided to block the Lithuanian border too. Because it is no longer interesting to blockade only the Ukrainian border.

Polish farmers have created and successfully spread the myth internationally that they are still suffering badly from the influx of Ukrainian grain. That is why they are protesting. This was partly true until June 2023, but after the EU Commission and Ukraine took special measures to protect the markets of the countries neighbouring Ukraine, it is a lie. Since then, no surplus Ukrainian grain has entered the markets of Poland or any of its neighbours. This can be seen in the graph based on EU statistics  (see Figure 1 below), which demonstrates how much cereals have been entering the markets of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria from the end of 2021. It is clear that after a peak of almost 1 million tonnes in November 2022, only around 15 000 tonnes (60 times less) are now entering these markets, which is exactly in line with the pre-war Ukrainian cereal export figures to these markets. 

Farmers might understandably be unhappy with the fact that wheat grain prices on world markets have been steadily declining since their peak, when they increased at least 3-fold from USD 300 per unit of relative weight (before the war) to USD 1 200 in the first months after the war. They have now fallen to USD 570 and are continuing to fall, but are still higher than they were before the war (see Figure 2 below). This global price trend is not due to Ukraine, but to the good harvests in Argentina this year and the good harvests forecast for the United States or Canada. The falling prices may cause various fears among Polish farmers, but it is neither moral nor sensible to protest on the Ukrainian or Lithuanian borders. Just as only those who are dizzy from protesting can protest on the borders of Ukraine or Lithuania regarding the consequences of the Green Deal approved in Brussels.

The consequences of such protests for Polish farmers could be very simple: it would not surprise me if a public campaign “buy Ukrainian and don’t buy Polish” starts in Lithuania.

Ukrainian salo and horilka are indeed of excellent quality.

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Figure 1. Imports of cereals from Ukraine into neighbouring (EU) Member States. Source: European Commission, Statistics on Ukrainian grains and oilseeds exports

 

 

Figure 2. Dynamics of wheat price in global markets (2015-2024, USd/Bushel). Source: tradingeconomics.com

 

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