EU agriculture commissioner pushes to extend Ukraine grain import ban

Ukraine entirely dependent on alternative EU routes
calendar icon 13 September 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

The EU agriculture commissioner said on Tuesday he believes the European Commission should extend a temporary ban on Ukraine imports into five neighbouring EU states as the measure helped boost exports outside the bloc, reported Reuters.

Ukraine has become entirely dependent on alternative European Union routes, called Solidarity Lanes, for its grain exports after Russia abandoned in July a year-long deal that had allowed Ukrainian grains to be shipped safely via its Black Sea ports.

As a result, farmers in neighbouring states - Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia - have faced increased competition and bottlenecks in their own markets.

The European Commission announced "temporary preventive measures" in May that would ban sales into these five states while allowing transit to non-EU markets, mainly Africa.

"The preventive measures were effective, efficient and stabilising the markets in the five member states and also helped increase exports via Solidarity Lanes," Agriculture commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski told the European Parliament.

"This is the main argument for prolongation of the preventive measures which is my strong position," he said.

He added that the Commission was closely monitoring the situation. The Commission also allocated 156 million euro ($167.29 million) in compensation to the affected EU farmers and amassed nearly 1.9 billion euro ($2.04 billion) to improve the alternative routes.

The five countries have been pushing for an extension of the ban past its Friday expiry and Poland has repeatedly said it will unilaterally continue with the ban if the Commission does not extend it.

Over 60% of the Ukrainian grain transiting through the EU moves through Romania where farmers’ associations said they plan to protest should the ban be lifted.

Romania’s agriculture minister, Florin Barbu, suggested the European Commission set up a subsidy system for transiting Ukrainian agricultural products outside the bloc.

“The restrictive measures have had a positive effect both for the Romanian grain market and for the transit of Ukrainian grain, which is rising,” Barbu said in a statement on Tuesday after meeting his Hungarian counterpart in capital Bucharest.

($1 = 0.9325 euros)

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