Polish Trucker and Farmer Protests Nearing Resolution

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by Martin Armstrong, Armstrong Economics:

Ukrainian goods are flooding into the European Union through neighboring nations and undermining business. Poland-Ukraine relations have turned sour in recent months as both truckers and farmers from the former believe EU regulations are favoring Ukraine’s economy over their own. Truckers in Poland began blocking four ports of entry from Ukraine in November. Polish farmers set up a barricade at the Shehyni-Medyka crossing after temporarily allowing passage over the Christmas holiday.

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The Polish government is siding with the protestors and agreeing to meet most demands. This was a massive protest involving over 3,000 trucks. Instead of pulling a Trudeau and arresting everyone involved in the trucker protest, the government took their concerns into consideration – what a novelty.

Polish truckers began the protests that sparked a second wave of protests from farmers. The truckers were furious that the European Union was permitting Ukrainian truckers to enter Poland without any limitations. Before the war, Ukrainian drivers needed to secure a permit to enter Poland to ensure that Polish and Ukraine border crossings remained relatively equal. The European Union removed this restriction and gave Ukrainian truckers a major advantage. Poland’s new prime minister, Donald Tusk, said there was nothing he could do unless the European Union complied.

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Then the farmers became involved, as they were livid amid the agriculture and Ukrainian grain export ban. Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria all saw cheaper grain and other agricultural products coming in from Ukraine by the truckload and undermining their own businesses. Zelensky went as far as threatening embargos on Polish agriculture and lawsuits against the Polish government if they expanded their ban on grain imports. The European Commission even threatened to punish Poland if they did not resolve the blockade.

The European Business Association believes that losses equated to $27,000 per day of the blockade. The Federation of Employers of Ukraine believes the figure is closer to $465 million in November and $614 million in October. The estimated cost varies significantly, but both sides experiences losses. Some truckers reportedly had to wait WEEKS before they could enter Poland.

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Polish Minister of Agriculture Cheslav Sekersky has said the embargo on Ukrainian goods is in effect indefinitely. However, Sekersky is agreeing to meet some of the protestors’ demands. Warsaw will not raise the agricultural tax this year, and the government will provide farmers with low-interest loans. Warsaw has asked the EU to provide their farmers with corn subsidies to the tune of $250 million for corn alone, and they are requesting $600 million for general loans. European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski said that he will ask the EU to implement further restrictions on Ukrainian agricultural products.

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