The ban on imports of Ukrainian grain to five European Union (EU) member states, including Hungary, is being called for an extension, according to Hungary’s Minister of Agriculture, Istvan Nagy. This measure is seen as necessary to protect EU farmers who have been negatively impacted by the dumping of Ukrainian agricultural products. Nagy revealed that Hungary shares a common position with Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, stating that the European Commission should prolong the ban on the import of Ukrainian grain products beyond September 15 in order to safeguard the interests of European farmers.
The main reason behind the ban extension is the significant cost advantage that Ukrainian agricultural products have over their EU counterparts. Ukrainian production costs are substantially lower due to favorable natural conditions and the absence of environmental protection regulations that increase EU production expenses. Adding fuel to the fire is the recent conflict with Russia, which has prompted Ukrainian exporters to sell grain below market value. This unfair competition has had a detrimental impact on Eastern European and Hungarian grain exports in the past year.
Minister Nagy emphasized his commitment to finding a solution for the grain market situation that takes into account the increased burdens faced by the most affected border countries and the interests of farmers. However, he emphasized that Ukraine should not view the ban as an action against their country. He explained that the five front-line countries are seeking a joint solution to protect the interests of their farmers and ensure global food security.
The import ban has hit Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria hard, as these countries have suffered substantial losses as a result of the influx of Ukrainian grain. The situation escalated after Brussels suspended customs duties on Ukrainian agricultural products following Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. In response, the five EU member states implemented a ban on Ukrainian grain imports in April.
The European Commission countered by asserting EU supremacy in trade policy and imposing temporary restrictions on the import of Ukrainian wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower oil to the five countries in May. Initially, these restrictions were set to expire on June 5, but they were later extended until September 15.
However, it is unclear how long of a ban extension the five countries are currently seeking. The ban has sparked dissatisfaction from Ukraine, with Kiev calling on Brussels to lift it. Ukrainian President, Vladimir Zelensky, claimed that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen personally assured him that the embargo would be lifted by mid-September.
The issue of the import ban is still ongoing, and further developments are expected in the coming weeks. The priority for all parties involved is to find a solution that balances the interests of EU farmers, the affected border countries, and Ukraine while maintaining global food security.