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The European Union (EU) is reportedly preparing emergency curbs on Ukrainian food products after several member states bordering Ukraine introduced their own import bans in response to farmers’ claims that an influx of cheaper Ukraine grain and other agricultural products was causing prices to drop, VOA News wrote on 21 April.

Romanian Minister of Agriculture Petre Daea outlined the bloc’s plans on 19 April following a virtual meeting with EU officials, the report said.

“The [European] Commission is making available to the five countries [Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia] €100M (US$109.32M) from its crisis reserve. … It provides for the activation of exceptional safeguarding mechanisms, which means stopping imports until 5 June for the following products: wheat, corn, sunflowerseed and rapeseed,” Daea was quoted as telling reporters.

The deal would only be available once member states had withdrawn their own unilateral import bans, Daea added.

At the time of the report, the EU had not confirmed details of the planned support package.

Ukraine, the world’s fifth biggest grain exporter, has struggled to ship agricultural produce from its Black Sea ports to world markets following Russia’s invasion last February, the report said.

In a bid to support the Ukrainian economy after the outbreak of the war, the EU ended quotas and tariffs on Ukrainian goods but Eastern European states claimed this had led to cheap grain imports flooding their domestic markets, VOA News wrote.

Earlier in April, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria banned the import of Ukrainian grain and other products, in an apparent breach of EU trade law, the report said.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Galab Donev was quoted as saying on 19 April that the measures were necessary.

“A significant amount of [Ukrainian] food has remained in the country and disrupted the main production and trade chains," Donev told reporters. “If this trend persists and even increases, it is possible to reach extremely serious consequences for the Bulgarian business.”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had outlined a US$2.4bn support package for farmers and was quoted as saying the EU response had been inadequate.

“What the EU is offering us is offered with a delay; it is too little, a drop in the ocean of needs,” Morawiecki told a news conference in Warsaw on 21 April.

While its domestic import ban remained in place, Poland had resumed the transit of Ukrainian products across its territory on the day of the report.

The EU said it planned to organise alternative transport, including convoys of trucks, trains and barges, to take grain from Ukraine’s land borders to ports where it could be shipped to the global market, VOA News wrote.

Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has officially commented on the one-day stoppage of inspections for vessels using the grain corridor on 11 April and used the opportunity to outline the conditions it expected for its continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI), AgriCensus wrote on 13 April.

In the official statement on 13 April, the Russian government restated the conditions it said must be met if it was to agree to extend the BSGI beyond late May – after the 60-day deadline that it had imposed on the deal had lapsed.

The BSGI was extended in mid-March, after the main signatories to the deal agreed to an extension, but while Ukraine claimed a 120-day time-frame had been agreed, Russia claimed they would only accept 60 days, which would mean the deal was due to be negotiated by 18 May, the report said.

Of the five points the Russian ministry wanted to see fulfilled, the main demand was to reconnect the national agriculture bank, Rosselkhozbank, to the Swift electronic payment system, AgriCensus wrote.

That was followed by a request to restart the supply of machinery, and services; the abolition of the insurance and re-insurance restrictions along with reopening of port access; restoration of work to allow ammonia to flow through the “Togliatti-Odessa” pipeline; and the unblocking of foreign assets and accounts of Russian companies related to the production and transportation of food and fertilisers, the report said.

In its official note, Russia also claimed the United Nations and Ukraine were responsible for the stoppage of inspections on 11 April, stating that vessels coming to the Bosphorus had not been correctly registered.