EC mulls extending temporary import ban from Ukraine to 5 states

The European Commission is considering extending a temporary ban on imports of key agricultural products from Ukraine into five member states following the European Council's decision Thursday to extend the duty-free import regime for Ukraine for another year.  

Imports of corn, wheat, rapeseed, and sunseed were temporarily banned into Poland, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania in early May, following pressure from farmers who claimed the imports had put extensive pressure on local markets, with the ban due to come to an end on June 5.

Meanwhile, transit via these countries and imports to other EU member states remains possible.

“With Ukraine, the adoption of the new autonomous trade measures for another year, we have a legal basis indeed for a possible extension of exceptional safeguards,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President of the European and Commissioner for Trade said at a press conference late Thursday following the extension of the duty-free regime.

“We have signaled the Commission's readiness to make an extension with the five state members concerned, and we are in discussion with those member states and Ukraine on this topic,” Dombrovskis said.

Ukraine, however, remains hopeful that the ban will not continue, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine following Thursday's announcement.

“We expect that these restrictions, which are in effect until June 5 of this year, will not be extended beyond that date and will be lifted in full," the statement said.

"Otherwise, we will consider the continuation of trade restrictions as an example of double standards, which will only undermine the solidarity of the EU with Ukraine.”

When the import ban was initially announced on May 3, Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said it could be extended for as long as until the end of the year if the European Parliament and Council extended the duty-free import scheme for another year. 

Other EU member states have meanwhile spoken out against the special measures put in place for the five member states.

Earlier this month, several member states wrote to the Commission stressing the importance of common trade policies for the whole bloc.