This year’s Ukrainian Agrarian Congress was the most global yet, with a strong focus on expanding international trade and cooperation. Two days of engaging dialogue held in Kiev on 18-19 October after 200 participants from about 100 companies, government, academia, non-government, and international organisations examined the world grain and agricultural markets with an emphasis on emerging challenges and opportunities for Ukraine.
As one of the major exporters of grain, Ukraine is looking to improve its quality for existing markets like the European Union while expanding to new regions such as Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa. On day one, sessions addressed global market trends and challenges related to trade policy development and climate change as well specific issues within the context of Ukraine, such land market, farm taxation biotechnology legislation and the African Swine Fever. Day two concentrated on trade, logistics, finance and investment with the goal of improving production and facilitating trade.
Reflecting on achievements
The opening plenary session briefly reviewed recent government reforms, deregulation and agricultural strategy development that were enabled, thanks to a public-private working group of representatives from the agribusiness and the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, supported by the European Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and other development partners. The management of the grain sector working group – which was launched by EBRD and FAO in 2011 – was fully transferred to the grain industry and the government at last year’s Congress.
“After four years of hard work and transparent dialogue, we are pleased to see how mature and sustainable the public-private dialogue process is,” said Sevki Acuner, EBRD’s Director for Ukraine. “Our work has been praised one of the most successful cases of policy dialogue which provides us and our partners in Ukraine and internationally with the lessons that could be replicated in other sectors and countries.”
Following the opening sessions, an important memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by the Ukrainian Grain Association and the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange, Bolsa de Cereales, Oleaginosos, Frutos y Productos. The Exchange participates in the Group of Producing Countries from the Southern Cone, which brings together organisations from the agro-industrial sector in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay — the largest net exporters of primary foods in the world. The MoU marks a commitment to promote exchange of information on markets, technologies as well as dialogue for more free, transparent and predictable trade and agricultural markets.
“This memorandum will promote the exchange of views and information between private agribusiness sectors in Ukraine and the Group of Producing Countries from the Southern Cone,” said Ekaterina Krivonos, FAO Economist. “By creating an environment for open dialogue and trade, importing countries will be in a better position to rely on exporters to ensure stable supplies and limit the use of export bans or other restrictions that may destabilize food markets. This will be beneficial for global food security.”
In a continued effort to link exporters and importers to each other and to new markets, FAO and EBRD also facilitated the participation of the Egyptian General Authority for Supply of Commodities (GASC) under the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade to learn more about public-private dialogue in the Ukrainian grain sector and discuss grain trade-related issues between the two countries. In addition, a representative of an Egyptian company shared major trends and prospects on the maize market with the Congress.
This is the first of three international events of the Ukrainian Agrarian Congress. The Black Sea-Caspian Sea Agrarian Congress, which will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan in April 2016 and the Ukrainian-American Agrarian Congress, which will take place in June 2016 in the United States, will be occasions to promote Ukrainian agriculture and create trade opportunities and investments.
FAO and the EBRD will continue to work with Ukrainian agribusiness industry associations from the grain, flour, meat and dairy sectors as their focus turns to export development in both traditional and new markets. The institutions will also continue to support the Ukrainian government and agribusiness industry associations in activities that contribute to more open market that facilitate investment, improve trade flows and increase food security.