A European Commission (EC) ban on Ukraine exporting grain to five neighbouring countries comes to an end tomorrow (15 September).
And a number of those countries have suggested they will unilaterally restrict imports if the EC does not extend the ban.
Reports suggest Hungary has agreed with Romania, Poland and Slovakia to bar Ukrainian grain imports to protect their domestic markets from cheaper imports if the ban expires.
However, Bulgaria, where the ban is also in place, this week voted to scrap the resolution enforcing it.
“The resolution reads that taking into view Bulgaria’s solidarity with Ukraine and considering the need of agricultural product supplies for global food security,” Bulgaria’s state news agency reported.
“Bulgaria does not support the extension beyond September 15, 2023, of the ban on Ukrainian wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower seed imports in Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. According to the resolution, the lift of the ban will not put at risk Bulgarian agricultural producers’ competitiveness.”
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News agency Reuters reported that Slovakia’s government has confirmed it would uphold the ban.
“The government is prepared, if the [European] Commission does not do so, to adopt a ban on imports at an extraordinary session, in the same mode as now,” Reuters quoted farm minister Jozef Bires as saying.
He said Poland and Hungary will also apply unilateral restrictions.
Reuters reported that Romania’s farm ministry said it would make a decision after the Commission has its say. However, just last month, Ukraine and Romania signed a deal to allow Kyiv to transit more grain through its neighbour’s territory.
The row goes back to May when the five European Union members – backed by the EC – banned imports of grain and selected other foodstuffs from Ukraine to protect prices for domestic farmers.
Ukraine has become even more dependent on alternative EU export routes, called Solidarity Lanes, for its grain exports since July when Russia tore up the agreement that had allowed Ukrainian grains to be shipped via its Black Sea ports.
Just Food has asked the EC whether it plans to extend the ban beyond this week.