In view of Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Lithuania considers it expedient to make wider use of the Baltic route for Ukrainian grain export. It involves Baltic ports in export operations with Ukrainian food. Customs and border clearance procedures for such cargoes should also be done there.
Lithuanian Minister of Agriculture Kęstutis Navickas stated this in Brussels before the start of the EU Council of Ministers on Agriculture and Fisheries, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
One of the key areas of discussion today is the situation in Ukraine, after Russia’s destruction of the Black Sea grain initiative. It is necessary to discuss more intensive use of the infrastructure of the EU and its ports. Lithuania proposed a Baltic route to facilitate the transportation and export of Ukrainian grain, a Lithuanian government official said.
According to him, the Ukrainian side also supports this idea. As Navickas noted, the Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine Mykola Solskyi sent a letter to European Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis, in which he offered to consider transferring customs and border clearance procedures for cargoes with Ukrainian food, as well as relevant phytosanitary measures, from the physical borders of Ukraine to EU ports.
It can be the port of Klaipėda or the Latvian port in Liepāja. Secondly, there is a proposal to develop a system of subsidies for European carriers, in particular, for railways, to support the export of Ukrainian grain to other European ports, the Minister of Agriculture of Lithuania said.
He noted that during the bilateral meeting he discussed such proposals with his Polish colleague, namely, an action plan to ensure the controlled transit of Ukrainian food to the Baltic ports, which will guarantee that this grain does not remain on the domestic market of Poland. Given the modern system of e-accounting and control, from a technological point of view, according to the Lithuanian government official, this is not difficult to do, including a system for tracking the movement of such cargoes and exchanging information.
Navickas also hopes for the solidarity of the Polish government. Procedures at the borders are time-consuming and complicated. It would be more efficient to transfer all customs and border procedures to European ports that have more checkpoints and more capacity to quickly process such cargoes. If an agreement is reached, particularly with Poland, such a system could be implemented within hours.
He noted that Russia, destroying the grain agreement, is trying to achieve several goals at once. The EU should maintain unity and solidarity to avert the possible consequences of such actions.
First, Putin uses food as a weapon. Second, the Russians are also fighting for the African market. Ukraine and Russia are rivals economically, as Russia is also a major exporter of food to Africa. After the suspension of the Black Sea Corridor, grain prices increased, albeit not as dramatically as last year. Another goal of Putin is to destroy the unity of European countries. That is why EU must find joint solutions at the level of the member states, together with the “frontline” states. In this, export is the key word, the Lithuanian government official noted.
As reported, in May 2023, the European Commission banned the import of wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower seeds from Ukraine to Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Romania at the insistence of these countries. On June 5, the ban was extended until September 15, 2023. The governments of the mentioned countries, in particular, Poland, insist on the extension of such a ban on the import of Ukrainian food, at least until the end of 2023. But the transit of Ukrainian grain through solidarity lanes to other EU countries and to the world market is preserved.