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Bulgaria permits licensed crop imports from Ukraine

4 December 2023 20:10 (UTC+04:00)
Bulgaria permits licensed crop imports from Ukraine

Bulgaria has permitted licensed imports of Ukrainian sunflower, rapeseed, corn, and wheat, the Bulgarian Agriculture and Food Ministry said in a statement on its website quoted by Ukrainian media, Azernews reports, citing Interfax.

Bulgarian Agriculture Minister Kiril Vatev and Ukrainian Agrarian Policy and Food Minister Nikolai Solsky agreed on details of licensed exports of sunflower seeds, rapeseed, corn, and wheat from Ukraine to Bulgaria at an online meeting on December 1, the ministry said.

"The Bulgarian Agriculture and Food Ministry has kept its promise to limit imports of these agricultural products as much as possible up to November 30, according to the memorandum concluded between the government and the farmers protesting committee," the ministry quoted Vatev as saying.

Upon the expiration of this period, the two countries "will strictly monitor the market to make sure that there are no market distortions and the interests of Bulgarian producers, processors, and consumers are not undermined," he said.

The two countries will continue to monitor imports and exchange data, the Bulgarian ministry said.

Solsky anticipated in November that Bulgaria, which refrained from imposing unilateral national restrictions on Ukrainian imports after September 15, when the EU lifted its relevant restrictions, could be the first EU country neighboring Ukraine to lift the restrictions in trade in agrifood.

Solsky suggested that Bulgaria would particularly wish to import sunflower from Ukraine. Bulgarian farmers and processing companies agreed in the fall of 2023 to open the domestic market to Ukrainian sunflower imports starting December 1. The Bulgarian government expected that local sunflower oil producers would buy up all sunflower seeds produced by local farmers by this date and would require another 1.5 million tonnes of them.

According to the Ukrainian oil industry association Ukroliyaprom, Bulgaria has 16 oil extraction facilities, which considerably increased production in the 2022 season and plan to develop sunflower oil exports using sunflower seeds imported from Ukraine.

The European Commission announced on September 15 that it would not extend restrictions on imports of agricultural produce from Ukraine to the five neighboring EU countries, i.e. Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia, based on certain conditions to avoid a new sharp hike in supplies.

The EU had imposed restrictions on imports of Ukrainian wheat, rapeseed, sunflower, and corn to the five countries on May 2. Those countries insisted that duty-free shipments of Ukrainian agrifood to the EU flooded their markets and damaged their agricultural sector.

After the EU lifted the restrictions, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia imposed unilateral bans. Moreover, Poland has added rapeseed cake and grist, corn bran, wheat flour, and their derivatives to the import ban list, and Hungary has extended its list to 24 items.

Ukraine has filed a motion with the World Trade Organization accusing Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia of discriminating against its agricultural produce. Ukraine is currently in negotiations on licensing exports of its food products subject to their mandatory verification in each of the five countries.

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