Bucharest, October 17, 2023 – by rbj – Romania is the only commercial partner of Ukraine in the cereal sales sector, despite the decisions of September 15 of the EC regarding the lifting of the embargo established by the common agreement at the beginning of the year.
The Polish government has already repeatedly conveyed that, regardless of the European Commission’s decision, it will unilaterally extend this ban, provoking protests from the Ukrainian government, which has threatened to address the World Trade Organization (WTO). Poland has warned that it is not entitled to address the WTO. The free entry of Ukrainian products to the EU market “was a unilateral gesture of goodwill on the part of the Union and not a bilateral legal obligation that Ukraine can claim by legal means,” Poland said.
Hungary also announced a national ban on the import of 24 Ukrainian agricultural products, including grains, vegetables and meat products and honey, a government decree said.
“Hungary will close its borders to 24 Ukrainian products”, compared to four so far, with the aim of “protecting the interests of our farmers”, the Minister of Agriculture, Istvan Nagy, announced on Facebook, quoted by AFP.
Slovakia, for its part, announced that it will continue unilaterally with the ban on Ukrainian grain imports, through the voice of the Minister of Farms, Jozef Bires.
To help Ukraine after Russia’s war against the country last February, the EU suspended tariffs and other trade defense measures on Ukrainian imports, including grain and other food products. During this time, large quantities of Ukrainian grain that should have only transited the Eastern European states through the “solidarity corridors” (created to help Ukraine export its grain after it could no longer use its sea ports Black) remained in these countries, where they were traded. The prices were lower, and the quality of the cereals does not meet the standards imposed by the EU.
The only state already in the Eastern bloc of the EU that has remained with Ukraine for the export of grain is Romania.
In this way, Ukraine exported, in the first nine months of this year, 10.5 million metric tons of grain through the Romanian port of Constanta, from the Black Sea, the port authority informed Reuters.
Comparatively, in the first eight months of this year, 9.2 million tons of Ukrainian grain were exported, and during 2022, Ukraine shipped 8.6 million tons of grain through the Port of Constanta.
The data does not include the volumes handled through the smaller Romanian ports on the Danube, such as Galati, which would bring the average monthly quantity to over two million tons.
Overall, 25.1 million tons of grain were shipped through the Port of Constanţa between January and September 2023, according to data from the port authority, equaling the previous annual record.
During his visit to Bucharest this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke about the trilateral cooperation between Ukraine – Republic of Moldova – Romania and the fact that a grain transport corridor from Ukraine through the Republic of Moldova will soon be operational.
In the coming months, the Romanian Government wants to double the monthly transit capacity for Ukrainian grains to four million tons, as infrastructure investments are underway, writes Reuters.
Port operators are also investing in equipment to increase loading speed.
Ukraine’s 2023 grain output is expected to exceed 56 million metric tons, but the blockade of its main Black Sea ports after the Russian invasion has affected supplies.