Hungary will impose new restrictions on agricultural imports from Ukraine

AP , Thursday 11 Apr 2024

Hungary's government will place new restrictions on the import of Ukrainian agricultural products, the country's agricultural minister said Thursday, a move designed to protect Hungarian farmers from market fluctuations caused by cheaper Ukrainian imports.

Grain port in Izmail, Ukraine
Grain lay at a grain port in Izmail, Ukraine. US and European officials have toured Ukraine s southern port of Izmail, a facility that is important in bringing Ukrainian grain exports to the world. AP


Agricultural Minister István Nagy told a news conference that a 2022 European Union decision to allow for duty-free imports from Ukraine, meant to help keep its economy afloat after Russia's invasion, had led to “severe oversupply and significantly low prices” in the European agricultural market.

He blamed the EU and its executive commission for failing to protect European farmers who could not compete with the cheaper imports, and said Hungary would pass additional protections “in its national competence.”

“Brussels and the European Commission have betrayed Hungarian farmers and are supporting Ukrainian oligarchs instead,” Nagy said.

Hungary has had a fraught relationship with neighboring Ukraine and is among the EU countries that have offered the least support to Kyiv during its war with Russia.

Soon after the full-scale Russian invasion in February 2022, Hungary declared it would not provide weapons to Kyiv or allow their transfer across its eastern border.

It has also argued against sanctions on Moscow and threatened to derail EU financial assistance to its war-ravaged neighbor.

On Thursday, Nagy said the government had decided on a five-point plan to assist Hungarian farmers, including a requirement for sellers and logistics companies to report to Hungary's government on restricted products being imported via Ukraine regardless of those products' country of origin.

Nagy added that processed products made from Ukrainian grain would also be subject to the restrictions.

Hungary last year introduced a ban on the import of 24 Ukrainian agricultural products, but said it would allow their transfer across its territory.

The ban applied to grains, oil seeds, flour, cooking oil, and several meat products. The government removed Ukrainian natural honey from the list last month.

In March, the EU struck a deal to renew its temporary suspension of import duties and quotas on Ukrainian agricultural exports to the bloc.

But the deal comes with a reinforced safeguard that will force the European Commission to reintroduce tariff-rate quotas if imports of various staples surpass the average volumes imported in 2022 and 2023.

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