EU 'close to deal' on Ukrainian import ban dispute

Industry News | | MIC Customs Solutions |

The EU is close to resolving a dispute with five of its members over unilateral bans on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products.

The European Commission (EC) is said to be close to a deal to end an internal dispute on import bans imposed by five member states on Ukrainian agricultural products, in defiance of the principle that EU trade policy is conducted as a bloc.

European commissioner for agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski had warned that countries could see financial aid for their farmers cut off if changes are not made. However, he added the two sides are "very close" to a deal to end the standoff.

Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania have all issued temporary import bans on a range of products from Ukraine, arguing that cheap imports have undermined their own agricultural sectors.

Large volumes of products have entered the EU's eastern members due to the war in Ukraine, after Brussels agreed to lift restrictions last year to help the nation export its products around the world.

AP News noted, for example, that in Poland, wheat imports went from 2,375 tons in 2021 to 500,008 tons last year, while maize shipments rose from 5,863 tons to more than 1.8 million tons over the same period.

Mr Wojciechowski said: "We fully understand that these five member states requested to introduce measures against this oversupply of products from Ukraine, because it creates many problems for the farmers in these front-line countries."

However, some EU officials have warned that the unilateral action undermines the bloc's united stance against the Russian invasion. French farm minister Marc Fesneau said, for example: "We need joint solidarity and our stand in the markets must be a common one."

A deal is likely to see the EC accept bans on imports of wheat, maize, rapeseed, sunflower seeds and sunflower oil to the five member states. Between them, these products make up around 90 percent of Ukrainian agricultural imports. 

However, efforts to extend this to honey, sugar, poultry and other secondary products are set to be rejected.