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Romania may extend ban on Ukrainian grain imports by 30 days

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 18, 2023 7:55 PM 2 min read
A COFCO facility in the north of Romania, where grain arrives from Ukraine by train. (Photo credit: RISE Romania)
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Romania will extend the ban on Ukrainian grain imports by another 30 days if the import requests rise, French broadcaster RFI reported on Sept. 18, citing the country's Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu.

However, the decision has not yet been finalized and Bucharest is waiting for proposals from the Ukrainian government on licensing of grain exports.

"The Ukrainian Prime Minister (Denys Shmyhal) promised to send the export licensing proposal today, which we will discuss," Ciolacu said on Sept. 18.

"If there will be export requests to Romania I will ask the agriculture and economy ministers to draft an order extending the ban for a period of 30 days until things are clarified," the prime minister said, stressing that he wants to avoid negative impacts on Romanian farmers.

Ciolacu noted that "not a single kilogram" of wheat has been imported into Romania from Ukraine since the European Commission decided not to prolong the ban.

In May, the Commission imposed a ban on sales of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed, and sunflower seed in five EU countries: Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria. The nations requested the measure due to fears from local farmers that cheap Ukrainian imports would drive down agriculture prices.

While the Commission decided not to extend the ban after Sept. 15, citing data indicating that Ukrainian imports would no longer negatively impact local markets, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary decided to continue to restrict imports of Ukrainian agricultural products.

Although Bulgaria was not among the countries prolonging the ban, Sofia's decision against the extension revived fears among Bulgarian farmers. Local agricultural workers have blocked main roads across the country in a nationwide protest against Ukrainian imports.

Several EU members have criticized the unilateral bans on Ukrainian grain, with Spain deeming the steps "illegal" and France saying it puts the "European project at risk."

Berlin also denounced the restrictions, accusing Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia of "part-time solidarity" with Ukraine.

"When it suits you, you are in solidarity and when it doesn't suit you, you are not," German Agriculture Minister Cem Ozdemir said.

The restriction does not apply to transiting Ukrainian grain. Romania said earlier that it aims to transport 60% of Ukrainian agricultural products through its territory.

Romania wants to transit 60% of Ukrainian grain
Bucharest hopes that around 60% of Ukrainian grain exports could transit through Romanian territory following Russia’s unilateral termination of the grain deal, the country’s Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu said on Aug. 18, Reuters reported.

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