EU proposes to expand duty-free Ukrainian grain imports

PARIS, Oct 5 (Reuters) - The European Commission has proposed that the EU increase the volume of Ukrainian grains that can be imported duty-free into the bloc, so that total import quotas would exceed 1 million tonnes per year for both maize and wheat.

The proposal, which needs to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, includes annual tariff rate quotas for 100,000 tonnes of wheat, 650,000 tonnes of maize and 350,000 tonnes of barley, according to the EU Official Journal.

The zero-tariff quotas would come in addition to those already in place, an EU official said on Wednesday. These are for 950,000 tonnes of wheat, 400,000 tonnes of maize and 250,000 tonnes of barley.

The new quotas aim to enhance economic and trade relations with the former Soviet country towards its gradual integration with the EU internal market, the EU’s official journal said.

Duty free imports would also include quotas of honey, tomatoes, grape juice and oats, the Journal showed.

Some copper and aluminum products, fertilisers and electronic equipment would also be allowed to be imported duty-free or would benefit from preferential tariffs.

The measure, proposed to apply for three years, would imply a loss of customs revenue corresponding to less than 50 million euros annually, the Journal says.

The proposal needs to be adopted in co-decision by the EU Council and the European Parliament.

No date has been set for a review yet, the EU official said, but the Journal says that “in view of the difficult economic situation in Ukraine, it is important for the regulation to enter into force as soon as possible”. (Reporting by Valerie Parent, writing by Sybille de La Hamaide, editing by William Hardy)