The European Commission (EC) has proposed increasing tariffs on imports of cereals, oilseeds and grain products into the European Union (EU) from Russia and Belarus in a bid to placate farmers and some member states, AgriCensus reported.

Depending on the product, the tariffs would increase to either €95 (US$102.66)/tonne or to an ad valorem duty of 50%, the 22 March report said.

In addition, Russia and Belarus would no longer have access to any of the EU’s World Trade Organization (WTO) quotas on grain and oilseeds offering better tariff treatment for some products.

“We propose the imposition of tariffs on these Russian imports to mitigate the growing risk to our markets and our farmers,” EC president Ursula Von der Leyen was quoted as saying.

When announcing the proposal, the EC said one of its aims was to prevent EU market destabilisation, which farmers across EU countries had been protesting over since the start of the year.

The tariffs are also aimed at preventing the export of illegally acquired grain and oilseed produced in Ukrainian territories from being sold in the EU, AgriCensus wrote.

While the tariffs would impact the sale of Russian grains into EU markets, the proposal would continue to allow Russian grains’ transit through the EU, storage in EU customs warehouses, transportation on EU vessels, and the provision of insurance and financing services for the trading of Russian grain, the report said.

Russia exported 4.2M tonnes of cereals, oilseeds and derived products – worth €1.3bn (US$14bn) – to the EU in 2023, according to the EC.

Further data from the EC showed that Russia was the second largest supplier of sunflower meal to the EU this marketing year after Ukraine, while Russia’s share of total supply of sunflower meal to the EU ranged from 21.50%-38.00%.

The proposed introduction of an import duty of 50% on oilseeds and their processed products could lead to a change in trade flows for Black Sea-origin sunflower and rapeseed meals, market sources were quoted as saying, due to the large quantities these countries exported to the EU.

EU imports from Russia of cereals, oilseeds and their derivatives reached a record of 4M tonnes in 2023, 1% cent of overall EU consumption, according to an earlier Financial Times report on 19 March.