EU should consider reintroducing tariffs on Ukrainian grain: CEE PMs

Photo: Getty Images/Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto

The European Union may need to consider the reintroduction of tariffs on Ukrainian grain if the influx of these products pushing down prices in the European Union markets cannot be stopped by other means, the prime ministers of five EU eastern economies have written in a letter to the European Commission.

A letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen outlining the problem was published on a Polish official government website. It was signed by the prime ministers of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Slovakia. The leaders wrote that the scale in the increase of products including grains, oilseeds, eggs, poultry, and sugar has been “unprecedented”.

Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, had its Black Sea ports blocked following Russia’s February 2022 invasion, and found alternative shipping routes through the European Union states Poland and Romania. The logistical bottlenecks that emerged in the ports and other routes created a situation in which large quantities of Ukrainian grains, which are cheaper than those produced in the EU, were unable to leave the Central European countries, and therefore badly impacted the local price, markets and farmers.

In their letter, the PM’s called for a variety of actions to limit market distortions caused by the uncontrolled grain influx and proposed that if these were not successful, tariffs and tariff quotas should be brought back by the EU.

“Let’s support Ukraine, but let’s do it wisely and, above all, let’s put the interest of the country and Polish farmers in the first place,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on Twitter.

One of the ideas for fixing the problem was to create a joint solution between the EU and the World Food Program to ensure Ukrainian grain leaves the EU markets.

The leaders also called for more funds to ease the losses of local farmers and boost the development of crucial transport infrastructure to help Ukrainian products reach their preferred markets.

They also appealed for changes to laws on agricultural imports that would allow for regulation of the volume and direction of the inflow of agricultural products.