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31 Jan, 2024 15:30

EU to extend tariff-free entry for Ukrainian grain – official

Flooding markets with cheap agricultural goods is a major source of discontent for farmers across the bloc
EU to extend tariff-free entry for Ukrainian grain – official

The European Commission has proposed extending the suspension of customs duties on agricultural goods from Ukraine and Moldova for another year, Vice President Margaritis Schinas told journalists on Wednesday.

The tariffs were originally dropped in 2022 in an attempt to provide support for Kiev in the wake of the Russian military operation, particularly as Ukraine was largely cut off from making shipments via its traditional Black Sea route.

The current tariff-free regime expires on June 5 for Ukraine and July 24 for Moldova, while the renewal will keep it in place until June 2025.

The move comes despite farmers in several EU states protesting the flooding of local markets with cheaper produce from Ukraine. In May 2023, five Eastern European members of the EU – Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia – took the step of unilaterally banning imports of Ukrainian grain.

The European Commission has acknowledged the adverse impact the suspension of tariffs has had on a number of EU nations. To address the concerns, the Commission’s latest proposal provides for “quick remedial action... in case of significant disruptions to the EU market.”

“For the most sensitive products – poultry, eggs and sugar – an emergency brake is foreseen which would stabilise imports at the average import volumes in 2022 and 2023,” the press release reads.

The measure allows tariffs to be reimposed if imports of the above-listed goods exceed the volumes of previous years.

Separately, Brussels proposed another one-year exemption – albeit a partial one – from rules that require farmers to leave a share of their lands fallow. These measures are part of the EU’s common agricultural policy, one aim of which is to promote biodiversity. 

The latest proposals will now be reviewed by the European Parliament and member states with a view toward adopting the measures by June when the current tariff suspension expires.

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