Central European countries will ask the EU to extend the ban on Ukrainian grain imports

(This footage was produced in Gdansk for the Reuters news site in Russia, where regulations restrict coverage of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine)

BUDAPEST, July 19 (Reuters) – The five Central European countries that make up the European Union will jointly ask the EU on Wednesday to extend a ban on Ukrainian grain imports beyond September 15 to avoid major market disruptions, Hungary’s agriculture minister told Reuters.

Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia have become alternative transit routes for Ukrainian grain, which helped offset the slowdown in exports through Black Sea ports after the start of the so-called special military operation of the Russian Federation in Ukraine.

The failure of the Black Sea grain deal this week could lead to more overland grain flows.

The European Union in May allowed five of its members to ban the sale of Ukrainian wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower seeds on the domestic market, while allowing the transit of these goods for export to other countries, including other EU countries. The ban expires on September 15.

Heading to a meeting in Warsaw, Hungarian Agriculture Minister István Nagy said that five Central European countries would ask for the time being to maintain the ban on imports of four Ukrainian products – wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower – while maintaining transit traffic.

However, according to the minister, an option will also be discussed where countries can individually request the EU to add other goods to the list.

“We are going to Warsaw to strengthen cooperation between the five countries and sign a declaration or agreement asking the EU to extend the ban beyond September 15,” Nagy said.

A majority of representatives from the five countries were in favor of maintaining the ban until December 31, and Hungary also supports it, Nagy said.

Agriculture Minister Robert Telus said on Tuesday that Warsaw is ready to improve transit through Poland, but the EU should help expand the infrastructure.

Poland will not lift the ban after September 15 even if it fails to reach an agreement with EU leaders, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Wednesday, while a spokesman for Budapest warned that if the EU refused, Hungary would take “all measures to prevent further suffering for Hungarian farmers.”

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(Christina Tan)


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