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EU Commission wants to continue liberalization of food trade with Ukraine

by Vladyslav Kudryk and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 24, 2024 4:16 PM 2 min read
EU flags in front of the European Commission building in Brussels, Belgium, on Dec. 28, 2023. (Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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The European Commission plans to continue measures to liberalize agricultural trade with Ukraine, said Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, which holds the EU presidency, David Clarinval, following an EU Council meeting on agriculture on Jan. 23.

"The European Commission will soon announce a proposal to extend liberalization measures for Ukraine. Member states hope to receive information about such an extension, as well as a vision of long-term trade relations," Clarinval said.

According to him, some EU countries have expressed concerns about such liberalization.

Ukrainian imports to the EU rose after the bloc instituted a free trade regime in early 2022 to alleviate the country's economy amid an all-out war. Ukraine's cheaper grain imports raised worries among its European neighbors, who complained of uneven competition and logistical bottlenecks.

Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia sent a joint letter to EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis and EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski last week saying that their farmers were "suffering significantly" since the EU lifted relevant restrictions in 2022.

According to Dombrovskis, this week, the European Commission will present amendments to EU trade legislation that will allow it to impose restrictions on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products to Ukraine's neighboring countries.

"We do not believe that member states can or should solve this problem alone. It is important that we preserve the single market and continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine. The European Union will continue to provide Ukraine with substantial and important assistance," Clarinval said.

He added that the Belgian presidency will be focusing on the issue in the next six months and seeking solutions that could satisfy all EU members.

The agricultural import spat between Ukraine and eastern EU members escalated last year.

After an appeal by Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia, the EU temporarily banned grain and several other select agricultural imports in these five countries between May and September 2023. These governments have largely continued the ban past the EU's expiration date.

Polish Agriculture Minister Czeslaw Siekierski said on Jan. 23 that Poland will start technical negotiations with Ukraine on export licenses in a few days.

Euractiv: Bulgaria urges tariffs and quotas on Ukrainian grain imports to EU
Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia sent a joint letter to EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis and EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski last week saying that their farmers were “suffering significantly” since the EU lifted relevant restrictions in 2022.

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