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The interplay between the electron transport in metal-ferroelectric-metal junctions with ultrathin ferroelectric barriers and the polarization state of a barrier is investigated. Using a model which takes into account screening of polarization charges in metallic electrodes and direct quantum tunneling across a ferroelectric barrier, we calculate the change in the tunneling conductance associated with the polarization switching. We find the conductance change of a few orders of magnitude for metallic electrodes with significantly different screening lengths. This giant electroresistance effect is the consequence of a different potential profile seen by transport electrons for the two opposite polarization orientations.