Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The European Commission has announced restrictions on the imports of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed, and sunflower seed in Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Bulgaria until June 5.
The move led to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and Bulgaria lifting unilateral import bans they had imposed citing the need to protect their farmers. Romania had not banned imports.
Ukraine mainly exported agricultural products through ports in the Black Sea until they were blocked by Russia last year.
Three ports in the Odesa region were subsequently re-opened under a U.N.-backed pact reached in July to create a safe corridor for exports to help tackle the global food crisis.
Other Ukrainian ports, including one of the most important, Mykolaiv, remain closed.
Ukraine, one of the world’s largest exporters of grains and oilseeds, has instead turned to land routes and expanded exports through small Danube river ports.
The easiest land route, north through Russia-ally Belarus, has been effectively shut off, forcing Ukraine to move as much grain as possible through eastern Europe.
To facilitate this option, the European Union announced a one-year suspension on import tariffs for Ukraine, in June 2022.
HOW MUCH HAVE EXPORTS TO EASTERN EUROPE RISEN?
While the EU’s aim was to give Ukrainian farmers an outlet to ship grain and oilseeds to their traditional markets in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia – and help ease a global food crisis – much has remained in Eastern Europe. The increase in exports of Ukrainian grains and oilseeds through the eastern European Union has been huge.
Ukrainian customs data shows that in 2022, 3.39 million tonnes of corn, 1.47 million tonnes of wheat, and 529,689 tonnes of barley were exported to Romania.
In 2021, only 526 tonnes of corn were exported, with no shipments of wheat or barley. Poland, meanwhile, received 2.08 million tonnes of corn, 579,315 tonnes of wheat, and 44,114 tonnes of barley in 2022. The previous year a meager 6,269 tonnes of corn and 3,033 tonnes of wheat were exported to Poland, with no barley.
On this topic, Dacian Cioloş (REPER, Romania), Renew Europe MEP, chair of Renew Europe’s food security working group and former European Commissioner for Agriculture, said:
“The difficulties farmers in the Member States bordering Ukraine are confronted with are not a regional but a European problem. The EU must continue its unwavering support to Ukraine, which is fighting to defend our values, but at the same time, we have to protect our farmers. We ask the European Commission to put in place medium and long-term solutions, in order to ensure that the solidarity lanes are fully operational after the 5th of June. This is the only way to avoid being blackmailed by Russia and, at the same time, to avoid that the problems faced by European farmers are used by populists and extremists to undermine the EU’s effort to help Ukraine.”
Urmas Paet (Eesti Reformierakond, Estonia), Renew Europe MEP and shadow rapporteur on the temporary suspension of duties on all Ukrainian exports to the EU in the Committee on International Trade (INTA) declared:
“Russia’s aggression in Ukraine unfortunately continues and thus we must remain committed to helping Ukraine in every way we can. By renewing the Autonomous Trade Measures for another year, we are supporting Ukraine’s economy and its producers during this unprecedented time”.