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Romanian farmers demand import limits on Ukrainian agricultural products, threaten more protests

by Dmytro Basmat January 21, 2024 9:17 PM 2 min read
Romanian farmers slowly drive their tractors on the road to Bucharest in Afumati village during protests on Jan. 16, 2024. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP via Getty Images)
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Several Romanian farmers' organizations sent a joint letter to Romanian government officials demanding that the country advocate for import limits on Ukrainian agriculture products ahead of the upcoming meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council, Romanian outlet Digi24 reported on Jan. 21.

Romania's Alliance for Agriculture, which represents several farmers' organizations, sent a letter to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu, and Agriculture Minister Florin Barbu, demanding a European Union decision be made that would safeguard Romanian farmers from the alleged market impacts of an influx of agricultural imports from Ukraine to the European market.

Since the beginning of Russia's attacks on Ukraine's main agriculture port of Odesa, Ukraine has been forced to export large volumes of grain through the EU.

As a result, grain imports in countries adjacent to Ukraine soared, distorting local markets and causing local farmers' grain to fall in price, which led to outcries and restrictions on both national and EU scales.  

Protesting Polish and Romanian farmers and truckers have been at the centre of blockades at Ukrainian border crossings for months, protesting the economic impacts of a free trade agreement that have sparked worries about uneven competition and risks to domestic production.

The farmers' alliance demands that Ukrainian import limits be set based on the 2021-2022 annual or quarterly averages. The farmers are also proposing the creation of a tracking system that would determine the destination of Ukrainian agricultural products before their entry into the EU.  

"Otherwise, all three of you (the president, the prime minister, and the minister of agriculture) should assume and bear the consequences of the intensification of the protests in Romania and in the other member states, which will grow much faster than anyone expects and that the next step is for the disgruntled farmers from most of the EU member states to move and block the activity in Brussels," the letter read.

The upcoming Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting is set for Jan. 23 where the Council will hold deliberations on the "strategic dialogue on the future of agriculture in Europe."

Earlier on Jan. 5, European Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski said he wants new restrictions on Ukrainian agricultural imports as the Commission mulls the extension of the free trade regime with Ukraine until 2025.

Ukraine is third largest agricultural supplier to EU
Ukraine remains among the top three suppliers of agricultural products to the EU, even though the exports dropped to an almost pre-invasion level in autumn 2023, the European Commission’s report said.

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