EU Demands Hungary, Poland, & Slovakia Open Their Borders To Cheap, Poor-Quality Ukrainian Grain

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Feb 16, 2024 - 07:00 AM

Authored by Denes Albert via ReMix News,

The European Commission insists on extending the duty-free and quota-free access of Ukrainian agricultural products and foodstuffs to EU markets for another year. EU trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis recently called on Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to immediately lift the ban on imports of Ukrainian products, which was introduced under national jurisdiction last September.

He noted that trade policy is an EU competence, so unilateral action by member states could lead to infringement proceedings against the three member states, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) could also take action.

The European Commission is pushing for “solidarity” despite the fact that not only Eastern European farmers but also Western European farmers are now facing serious competitive disadvantages due to the influx of poor-quality food from Ukraine. As a result, Ukraine has become a major factor driving farmer protests across the bloc, from France to Poland.

Ukraine’s agricultural products are depressing prices on the EU market, as the costs for large agribusinesses in Ukraine are significantly below those of EU producers. This is because Ukraine has much more permissive rules on production conditions and animal welfare.

Ukraine no longer needs help but benefits from the EU’s open market

Both farmers and countries in Central Europe opposing Ukrainian agricultural imports point out that Ukraine no longer has any problem shipping its agricultural products.

According to Hungarian news outlet Mandiner, It has recently emerged that Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov has said that “in January, Ukrainian grain exports reached pre-war levels, with 14.3 million tons shipped by sea from the port of Odessa, which had previously been blockaded by the Russian army.” He added that more than 650 ships had left the port in recent months, carrying Ukrainian goods to 32 countries around the world.

Before the war, Ukraine used sea routes for the bulk of its agricultural exports, and the infrastructure was built on this form of transport. Previously, these sea routes were blockaded by the Russian army several times during the Russo-Ukrainian war, and they could not be replaced by land transport because the rail infrastructure is not up-to-date to transport large volumes of goods, and the EU and Ukrainian rail gauges are different. However, the immediate danger has subsided, as more and more ships make their way safely to Ukrainian ports and successfully transport agricultural products.

Ever since Brussels decided to temporarily suspend tariffs and quantitative quotas limiting EU imports of agricultural goods and processed food from the war-torn country, Hungary, Poland, and other Central European countries have protested the move. Although the loosening of restrictions on Ukraine’s agricultural products was initially done to support Ukrainian agriculture and ensure agricultural shipments to Africa and the Middle East, multinational corporations have benefited greatly, and much of the grain has remained on European markets instead of being shipped to poorer countries.

This temporary concession was already extended last year by Brussels, and now it has resubmitted its proposal to the European Parliament and the Council, which will be voted on by decision-makers shortly.

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