The European Commission (EC) is considering extending a temporary ban on imports of key agricultural products from Ukraine into five member states following the European Council’s decision on 25 May to extend Ukraine’s duty-free import regime for another year, AgriCensus reported.

Imports of corn, rapeseed, sunflowerseed and wheat were temporarily banned into Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia in early May, following pressure from farmers who claimed the imports had put extensive pressure on local markets, the 26 May report said. The ban is due to end on 5 June.

Meanwhile, transit via these countries and imports to other European Union (EU) member states remained possible, AgriCensus wrote.

“With Ukraine, … we have a legal basis for a possible extension of exceptional safeguards,” Valdis Dombrovskis, EC executive vice-president and commissioner for trade was quoted as saying at a press conference on 26 May, following the extension of the duty-free regime in Ukraine.

“We have signalled the commission’s readiness to make an extension with the five state members concerned, and we are in discussion with those member states and Ukraine on this topic,” Dombrovskis added.

However, Ukraine remained hopeful the ban would not continue, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine following Thursday's announcement.

“We expect that these restrictions, which are in effect until 5 June of this year, will not be extended beyond that date and will be lifted in full,” the statement said.

“Otherwise, we will consider the continuation of trade restrictions as an example of double standards, which will only undermine the solidarity of the EU with Ukraine.”

When the import ban was first announced on 3 May, agriculture commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said it could be extended until the end of the year if the European Parliament and Council extended Ukraine’s duty-free import scheme for another year, the report said.

Since then, other EU member states have spoken out against the special measures put in place for the five member states, according to the report.

Earlier this month, several member states wrote to the Commission stressing the importance of common trade policies for the whole bloc, AgriCensus wrote.