The European Commission (EC) has suspended imports of several agricultural products from Ukraine until 5 June, AgriCensus reported.

According to the EC’s official statement on 2 May, the ban covers the import of key agricultural products from Ukraine including corn, rapeseed, sunflowerseed and wheat to the five so-called “frontline” EU bloc members – Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia – from 2 May to 5 June.

However, agricultural products of Ukraine-origin are free for circulation and import to other EU member states, according to the statement.

In addition, the frontline countries remained open for export to other EU countries or outside the bloc, AgriCensus wrote on 3 May.

“In parallel, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have committed to lift their unilateral measures on wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflowerseed and any other products coming from Ukraine,” the statement said.

The EC said it was ready to re-impose preventive measures after the expiration period on 5 June if the “exceptional” situation continued.

“While addressing concerns of farmers in those member states neighbouring Ukraine, the measures uphold the EU’s strong commitment to support Ukraine and preserve its capabilities to export its grains - which are critical to feed the world and keep food prices down - in the face of the huge challenges posed by the unprovoked Russian aggression,” the statement added.

While welcoming the agreement in principle, FEDIOL, the trade association representing the EU vegetable oil and protein meal industry, said it regretted that the EU had to resort to trade restrictions targeting specific EU member states.

“It is giving a negative signal to war-torn Ukraine and its farmers, for which continuing to export has become critical,” FEDIOL said in a statement on 2 May.

The association noted that although rapeseed and sunflowerseed were included in the agreement, products resulting from crushing, such as sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, sunflowerseed meal and rapeseed meal were not.

“The vegetable oils industry in Ukraine and in the EU will … not be operating on a level playing field, which is likely to be detrimental for the EU oilseeds processing industry, notably in the frontline countries. In addition, the detrimental effects to the oilseed processing industry will likely spill over to the local seed markets affecting negatively local farmers’ revenue,” FEDIOL added.

Meanwhile, on 9 May, the European Parliament voted to approve extending the suspension of EU import duties on Ukrainian exports of agricultural products for another year, AgriCensus reported on the same day.

The Autonomous Trade Measures (ATMs) – in force since June 2022 -suspend import duties, anti-dumping duties, quotas and safeguards to fruits and vegetables subject to the entry price system, as well as agricultural products and processed agricultural products subject to tariff-rate quotas, according to the report.

The measures would now need to be approved by the EU Council.