Espreso. Global

European Commission proposes to impose duty on grain from Russia and Belarus: Kremlin reacts

22 March, 2024 Friday

The European Commission proposes to raise tariffs on imports of agricultural products from Russia and Belarus to the EU. Kremlin calls it unfair competition

The European Commission's press service announced the intention to increase the duty.

The measures are designed to achieve several objectives:

  • to prevent EU market destabilisation through any future significant redirection of Russian grain products onto the EU market. The EU farming community has, in particular, expressed concerns about this risk - Russia's role as a leading global grain exporter, coupled with its willingness to use food exports as a geopolitical tool, shows that it is high.
  • to tackle Russian exports of illegally appropriated grain produced in the territories of Ukraine, some of which has been illegally exported to the EU market deliberately mislabelled as ‘Russian'. The tariffs proposed today will ensure that this illicit export method is no longer profitable.
  • to prevent Russia from using revenues from exports to the EU - of both Russian and illegally appropriated Ukrainian grain products - to fund its war of aggression against Ukraine. As Russia exported some 1.3 billion euros' worth of such products to the EU in 2023, these EU tariffs will cut off another important source of profit for the Russian economy and, by extension, the Russian war machine.

The European Commission's proposal does not affect the transit of grains, oilseeds and their products from Russia and Belarus to third countries.

The European Commission is today proposing to increase the tariffs on imports into the EU of cereals, oilseeds, and derived products (‘grain products') from Russia and Belarus, including wheat, maize, and sunflower meal.  These tariffs, while high enough to suppress such imports into the EU in practice, would not affect exports to third countries.

European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, said: "We propose the imposition of tariffs on these Russian imports to mitigate the growing risk to our markets and our farmers. They will reduce Russia's capacity to exploit the EU for the benefit of its war machine. And we maintain our commitment to preserving global food security, especially for developing countries. We are striking the right balance between supporting our economy and farming communities. At the same time, we maintain our unyielding support for Ukraine. "

The decision is now to be considered by the EU Council. If the new tariffs are approved, the changes will take effect immediately.

What the Kremlin says

Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the consumers in Europe will suffer the most from the introduction of the duty.

"The consumer in Europe will definitely suffer. We have a lot of alternative supply routes. Here, of course, experts must calculate the quantitative flows, how much they will be able to compensate for these de facto prohibitive measures," Peskov was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

"This is another clear example of unfair competition," Putin's spokesman added.

Earlier, the Financial Times reported on the EU's intentions to impose the duty, citing people familiar with the plans.

What is known about the protests on the Ukrainian-Polish border

On February 7, Polish farmers sent an official notice to resume strikes on the border with Ukraine. The blocking of the Dorohusk-Yahodyn checkpoint began on February 9. The protest was approved by local authorities until March 9.

Earlier, the Polish farmers' union Solidarity announced a general strike across the country on February 9. At the time, it was noted that it would begin with the blockade of all checkpoints on the border with Ukraine, as well as the blocking of roads and highways in certain regions.

The reason for the resumption of the protests is simple: according to one of the organizers of the action, Roman Kondruv, it is because the authorities have done nothing about the problems of technical grain from Ukraine since the previous actions.

On February 20, Polish farmers on the border with Ukraine blocked the railroad and poured grain out of a freight car. Later it turned out that it was headed to Germany.

On the evening of February 20, Polish protesters eased traffic restrictions near the border with Ukraine at two checkpoints, including Hrebenne-Rava-Ruska, and began allowing cars to pass through.

Amid protests by Polish farmers, the European Union has decided to step up checks on compliance with agreements on grain imports from Ukraine.

Poland recognizes that Russian agricultural products and grain enter the European market from Russia through ports in Greece, Belarus, and Latvia, but the protests concern only products from Ukraine.

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