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Ukraine is third largest agricultural supplier to EU

by Martin Fornusek January 20, 2024 12:22 AM 2 min read
A pile of maize grains is seen on the pier at the Izmail Sea Port, Odesa Oblast, on July 22, 2023. Illustrative purposes only. (Stringer/ AFP via Getty Images)
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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.

As one of the world's leading agricultural producers and exporters, Ukraine's trade is complicated by Russia's threats to the Black Sea maritime transport, which forced the country to seek alternative routes and markets.

"After high agri-food import values from Ukraine in the second half of 2022 and the beginning of 2023, monthly imports in September and October 2023 were almost back at their 2021 level and nearly half lower than at this period in 2022 (-45%)," the report read.

For the period of January and October 2023, Ukraine supplied the European bloc with 12.84 billion euros ($13.9 billion) worth of agricultural produce. Throughout 2022, the exports amounted to 15.3 billion euros ($16.7 billion) and to 11.9 billion euros ($13 billion) in 2021.

"However, different evolutions can be observed across products, with large increases in cereals imports (1.2 billion euros, +39%), sugar (+254 million euros, +652%), and poultry (+148 million euros, +50%), while imports decreased in oilseeds and protein crops (-762 million euros, -29%) and vegetable oils (-688 million euros, -29%)."

Ukraine ranks only behind the U.K. and Brazil in agricultural exports to the EU.

In turn, Ukraine began importing increasingly more EU agricultural products as well. According to the report, the country "was the third destination for which EU agrifood exports grew the most compared to 2022, with an increase of 447 million euros (+19%), across most product categories," reaching 2.8 billion euros ($3.05 billion) from January to October 2023.

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.

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.

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