In Poland agrarians became the target audience. The discourse on losses associated with sanctions, as well as their inefficiency,was launched in 2016 by the politicians of Poland People’s Party (PSL) and by some of the representatives of the left-wing forces which propagated ideas of lifting economic sanctions against Russia.
Fears of negative impact of Russian counter-sanctions turned out to be mistaken. The experience of the last decade, when Russia from time to time introduced trade restrictions against particular countries, strengthened the entrepreneurs' position to diversify sales markets in the view of the high risks associated with excessive dependence on the volatile Russian market. A state,which has significant export supply and diversified sales markets, is less sensible to adverse effects following the relationships with an unpredictable partner.
Export volume of Polish goods to Russia decreased yet before the introduction of food import embargo. Polish export to Russia declined (by 1.1 billion euros in 2014, by about 1.9 billion in 2015 and flattened out in 2016), primarily in such economy sectors as animal and vegetable products. In 2013-16, these industries suffered a decline in exports by 0.3 and 0.5 billion euros respectively. That is complemented by the reduction of exports of finished consumer goods by 0.27billion euros. In addition, large-scale shifts have taken place in sectors which being beyond the counter-sanctions, however, affected by decline in purchasing power in Russia. Thus, Polish machine building has reduced exports to Russia by 0.7 billion euros, chemical industry - by 0.15 billion euros.
In the meantime, despite a significant recession in the Russian market, Polish crop and livestock production has not suffered such significant losses on the world market. Thus, the overall dynamics of exports of livestock and crop products is positive and increased from 2013 to 2016 by 0.9 billion euros and 0.24 billion euro respectively. Sectors of the Polish economy which fell beyond the counter-sanctions, however, reduced exports to Russia due to its subsided purchasing power, also have a positive overall dynamics in 2013-2016 (for example, machinery production increased by 8 billion euros and export of vehicles – by 4.5 billion euros). This confirms the fact that sanctions can be sensitive in the short term prospects only, and companies can quickly reorient themselves and enter new markets.
The agro-industrial complex of Poland has almost immediately adapted to new conditions. Following imposition of sanctions against Russia, the total exports of Polish agricultural products increased by 4.5% in 2014, while taking together with food products - by 7.1% compared to 2013.
In fact, the time since Russia applied counter-measures against the EU has shown it clear that Polish producers of food products did not depend on the Russian market in the long-run prospect. Generally, the losses for Polish exporters were quite negligible due to the immediate response of Polish enterprises and reorientation to the new sales markets. There have been positive shifts in the state's exports: changes in the directions of food products delivery were successful. Particularly (the most problematic), export of apples was rearranged to the Gulf countries, export of pork and beef was additionally redirected to the EU countries.
Losses for the Polish economy associated with bilateral restrictions were observed only at the level of separate industries or producers which failed to enter new markets in such a short term.
Economic restrictions against Russian Federation became an additional impulse for Poland in the development of its own economy through entering into new sales markets with its products, which would have been impossible in the absence of sanctions and counter-sanctions, which ultimately helped Polish agribusiness to become even more flexible.
The negative impact of Russian embargo on the EU is incomparable with the impact on Russian economy produced by anti-Russian sanctions.