Despite the decision of the European Commission not to extend the import ban on Ukrainian agricultural products in five EU member states – those states that had imposed import bans earlier are maintaining their restriction, with the exception of Bulgaria.
In addition to grain, the Hungarian government has also imposed an import ban on other products, affecting a total of 25 goods of Ukrainian origin, according to an Oeconomus summary outlining the positions of several affected states.
FactThe European Commission published its decision on the previous import ban on the evening of September 15, stating that it did not consider it necessary to maintain the restriction. They analyzed the impact on farms and found no significant market distorting effects. They also stressed that they called for a constructive approach by member states to resolve the issue and urged Ukraine to make some changes. In particular, Ukraine agreed to introduce legal measures within 30 days to avoid an increase in grain exports. The European Commission and Ukraine will jointly monitor the situation and intervene together if necessary. As long as the changes introduced are in place and working, the European Commission will not impose any further restrictions on the products concerned.
By the September 15 deadline, among the five member states with existing import bans,
Hungary, Poland and Slovakia had considered extending the restrictions under their national jurisdiction, while Romania and Bulgaria remained silent on the issue.
In both Bulgaria and Romania, unfavorable sunflower harvests, which would create a need for imports for the production of sunflower oil in Bulgarian markets, were a decisive factor in the decision. Yet Hungary, Poland and Slovakia decided to keep the restrictions in place.
Bulgarian PM Nikolay Denkov reportedly called protesting farmers “terrorists”. Photo: Wikipedia
Romania has made imports of Ukrainian grain conditional on when Ukraine submits an action plan to the European Commission. Until then, grain supplies will continue to be restricted. Bulgaria, however, announced that it would not extend the ban on grain imports, although farmers and trade union representatives had expressed their concerns to the Bulgarian authorities. After the decision was announced, protests erupted in several places across the country, with farmers blocking border crossings to make their views known.
Even before September 15, Hungary had repeatedly indicated that it would maintain the import ban whether or not the European Commission extended its earlier measures. Crucially though, all these products are still allowed for transit, but cannot be traded on the domestic market.
Following the decision of the four countries,
Ukraine has held out the prospect of legal action against the unilateral extension of the import ban. Ukrainian Deputy Trade Minister Taras Kachka informed that Ukraine could, conversely, launch a similar initiative against Polish fruit and vegetable products flowing into the country.
This is also significant because Poland has always supported Ukraine since the beginning of the war and in 2021 was Ukraine’s second most important import partner in terms of trade.
Ukraine’s complaint to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the maintenance of import restrictions on Ukrainian grain lacks any legal basis,
the head of the Slovak Ministry of Agriculture Jozef Bíreš said Tuesday. The Slovak minister told the Slovak state news agency TASR that the embargo on Ukrainian grain imports will not be lifted.
The row about the Central-Eastern European countries’ market protection measures keeps on getting on force, while there is woefully little said about the United State’s growing demand for Russian uranium. The Hungarian thinktank Oeconomus reported that in the first half of 2023, the United States bought 416 tonnes of uranium from Russia, 2.2 times more than a year earlier and the largest amount since 2005.
Via Hungary Today, Oeconomus; Featured Image: Pixabay