Ukraine says Bulgaria export process cleared, sunseed already moving: trade

Ukraine's agriculture ministry has said that it expects to start receiving requests to import Ukrainian grains and oilseeds into Bulgaria, after the country lifted restrictions on cross-border movements of agricultural products.

But trade sources in the region have warned that there is still a lack of clarity on how the process works - although some sources have suggested that sunflower seeds may already be underway. 

That came as both parties agreed on export procedures for the four main commodities of wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower seeds, under a new license system that had been announced and agreed earlier in the year.

Farmers in EU countries bordering Ukraine had pushed back on the country's produce, much of which had been forced into cross-border transit after Russia shut down Ukaine's Black Sea ports and curtailed its natural export routes.

Under the new agreement, which is designed to limit the impact of cross-borderf flows on local markets, exports are allowed but bilateral consultations with the importing country need to be held.

"The Bulgarian government lifted the restrictions and supported our action plan for the verification and approval of the export of certain types of agricultural goods," the Agriculture Minister of Ukraine, Mykola Solskyi said.

"Finally, all technical issues between our countries have been agreed upon and the Ukrainian Government can start accepting applications from exporters," Solskyi said.

However, local trade sources struck a cautious note with many complaining that there was still no full understanding of what documents or procedures should be taken when trying to export.

"In the theory, [export] is permitted as of the first of December, but in practice, no one knows what documents are needed and how it can happen," one Bulgaria-based trader told Agricensus.

"We’ll be sending a letter to the ministry for more information, but they are currently hiding behind the “procedures” and not giving any feedback," the trader said.

At the same time, some sources also said that trades for sunflower seeds into Bulgaria have already started to happen, as the import was said to have been already cleared from last week, but nothing official had been seen on that topic.