EU trade preferences for Ukraine


The European Union has extended trade preferences for Ukraine until 2025, which is a challenge for Poland in respect of market protection, but also provides opportunities for Polish companies to cooperate and develop.

The European Union has decided to suspend customs duties and quantitative restrictions on imports of agri-food products from Ukraine to the EU for another year – until June 2025. In response to the protests of Polish farmers, unlike in the previous two years, the decision to extend duty-free trade is accompanied by restrictions to protect the EU market.

The new automatic protective mechanism will oblige the European Commission to reintroduce quotas if imports of sensitive goods – poultry, eggs, sugar, oats, maize, groats, and honey – exceed the average amount imported in the second half of 2021 and in 2022-2023. The decision also provides for the right for the European Commission to introduce protective measures based on ongoing monitoring. The prerequisite for the implementation of the restrictions will be the negative impact of imports from Ukraine on the stability of the market of one or more Member States, and not, as has been the case so far, only in the case of disturbances of the entire Community market.

The EU's trade preferences towards Ukraine are on the one hand a challenge for Poland in respect of market protection, but also a potential opportunity for Polish business, especially for companies operating in the agri-food and processing sectors. 

The main problem of Ukrainian agriculture is a poor processing base. Polish companies can establish cooperation with Ukrainian producers, taking advantage of duty-free imports of raw materials and semifinished products. Due to that, Polish companies can reduce production costs, increase the competitiveness of their products on the European market and develop new product lines. Such activities are undertaken, among others, by Mlekovita, Helpa or Makarony Polskie.

Polish business can also use the transit position to act as an intermediary in importing Ukrainian agri-food products to third countries – both EU and using Baltic ports to non-European customers, particularly interested in importing agri-food products.

Most Ukrainian goods are exported to the EU without restrictions under the Association Agreement. 

All industrial goods are no longer subject to tariffs. The EU's autonomous trade preferences apply to agricultural products that are not fully liberalized in the agreement. These are 36 categories of goods for which contingent tariffs are provided, as well as goods to which the entry price system applies. 

Eurostat data shows that the value of EU imports of agri-food products from Ukraine in 2023 decreased by 10 percent, to €11.8 billion. However, it was still as much as 71 percent higher than before the outbreak of the war and Russia's blockade of Black Sea ports in 2021. The value of imports from Ukraine to Poland in 2023 fell by as much as 37% to about €1.7 billion. The decreases in 2023 were caused by the national restrictions on imports of certain products imposed by Poland. 

However, despite this decline, imports were still about 82% higher than in pre-war 2021.

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