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19 Mar, 2024 11:51

EU preparing tariffs on Russian grain – FT

The restrictions will reportedly target cereals, oil seeds and their derivatives
EU preparing tariffs on Russian grain – FT

The European Union is preparing to impose tariffs on grain imports from Russia and Belarus under pressure from protesting farmers and some bloc members, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The European Commission is expected to levy a duty of €95 ($103.20) per ton on cereals from Russia and Belarus in the coming days, the outlet said, adding that tariffs of 50% would also be placed on oil seeds and derived products.

It would be the first time that restrictions were placed on Russian food products and would drive prices up by at least 50%, “eradicating” demand, the article stated.

An unnamed EU official told the outlet that cereal prices were at four-year lows, while Russia was “very competitive on cereal markets and is putting [on] significant pressure.”

The expected duty will be set at the maximum allowed under the World Trade Organization’s rules, the report indicated.

Brussels has long resisted pressure from Poland and the Baltic states to restrict agricultural imports from Russia and Belarus, arguing that such a move could disrupt global food markets and hurt developing nations.

In February, Latvia imposed a unilateral ban on food imports from Russia and Belarus, becoming the first EU state to introduce such an embargo, while Lithuania announced strict inspections of cargoes.

Poland has supported the move, with Prime Minister Donald Tusk warning earlier this month that Warsaw could follow suit. However, he noted that he would “prefer that we decide together, as the whole EU, on sanctions on Russia and Belarus on food and agricultural products.”

Poland has been hit by a series of farmer protests throughout the country over a massive influx of cheap agricultural products from Ukraine following the EU’s decision in 2022 to lift tariffs on the country’s food products. 

Ukrainian Trade Minister Taras Kachka said earlier this month that Kiev was ready to accept trade restrictions with the EU on its agricultural supplies to end its disputes with Poland. But he said the EU should also bar imports of such goods, particularly grain, from Russia and Belarus.

Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told Tusk that Brussels was “evaluating the possibility of introducing restrictions on the import of agricultural products from Russia” to the EU.

The duties will not affect Russian firms as exports to the EU are relatively small, the head of the Russian Union of Grain Exporters, Eduard Zernin, said on Tuesday. However, the levy may hit processing companies in the EU, particularly in Italy and Spain, he noted, adding that the bloc has never been Russia’s target market.

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