Bulgarian Ag ministry proposes draft quotas for Ukrainian imports

11 Dec 2023 | Anna Platonova

Bulgaria’s agriculture ministry has proposed draft quotas for the import of some Ukrainian goods, including sunflower and sunflower oil, although how the quotas will work and when they will come into force remains unclear, while many Ukrainian sunflower sellers are still awaiting the appropriate documentation to export.

In a notice published by the official Bulgarian media resource, the ministry extended the list of agricultural goods and food products that can be imported to 10.

In addition to wheat, sunflower, rapeseed, and corn, refined and unrefined sunflower oil, white sugar, powdered milk, honey, and frozen raspberries, will all fall under the import license regime that has been in place since the beginning of December, after passing all the approval procedures.

The ministry is currently discussing quotas of 923,033 mt for sunflower, 79,500 mt for sunflower oil, and 11,711 mt for refined sunflower oil.

According to the official document, the volume of the quota was set based on the 2023 harvest, carryover stocks from 2022, consumption and crash volumes, and other indicators.

Market sources meanwhile do not expect the quotas to be approved soon, with the ministry due to meet with Bulgarian associations on Thursday, 14 December to discuss the matter, following which the draft will need to be presented to the European Parliament in Brussels.

“There will be a big meeting between the government here and all associations of crusher, farmers, dairy producers, then on December 18 [the ministry] is going to Brussels to present it to the EU parliament before adopting it,” the Bulgaria-based broker said.

"I think that before Christmas nothing will be clear," the broker added.

At the same time, Bulgarian crushers are in no rush to see quotas removed as the prices announced by Ukrainian sellers are high in comparison with those offered for local sunflower, while most Ukrainian sellers still do not have the necessary documents for export to Bulgaria.

“Above is as per the working paper from our AgMin, and I hope it will come into operation very soon, but it’s a bit too late for everyone,” said another broker based in Bulgaria.

"The last offered levels from Ukraine were at $430/mt by truck, but that's above the present bids here for Bulgarian origin and it's late because we missed the first half of the season that cannot be compensated," the broker added.

At the same time, according to market sources, some Bulgarian crushers tried to import sunflowers from Ukraine but faced defaults as delivery deadlines were constantly postponed and, in the end, deliveries were disrupted as the Ukrainian sellers lacked the necessary documentation.

According to the latest monthly update from the European Commission, the sunflower harvest in Bulgaria in the 2023/24 season fell by 23% compared to the previous season to 1.62 million mt.