Ukraine’s European neighbors are extending a ban on purchasing some of the country’s grain until mid-September, a move that risks fueling tensions between Kyiv and its allies.
In late April, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria agreed to replace unilateral import bans on crop shipments from Ukraine with European Union restrictions. Transit shipments to other member states are allowed. Those eastern European nations said flows from Ukraine threatened local farmers after prices slumped.
That EU agreement was set to end on Monday, but the restrictions on soft wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower seed now have been extended to Sept. 15, according to a document posted on the European Commission website. Other crops such as durum wheat and spelt have been removed from the ban. The scope of the “exceptional and temporary preventive measures” has been reduced and they will then be phased out, according to the statement.
“Important logistical bottlenecks still remain,” the document said. “Infrastructure in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia remains insufficient to handle the surge in traffic.” That is impacting local producers in those countries, it said.
Grain shipments from Ukraine, a key global supplier, have been disrupted by Russia’s invasion. Kyiv on Friday called on the EU to end the ban on its crop exports, saying it was helping the Kremlin intensify pressure on the country’s economy.
When the invasion initially blocked the nation’s Black Sea ports, Ukrainian farmers started sending more cargoes by rail, truck and river through its EU neighbors. While a deal — brokered by the United Nations and Turkey — has established a safe maritime corridor for Ukrainian crop exports, shipments frequently have been disrupted.