EU may need to reintroduce tariffs on Ukrainian grain, PMs say

Farmers harvest wheat in Kherson region
Men sit in the cabin of a combine while harvesting wheat during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the Russia-controlled village of Muzykivka in the Kherson region, Ukraine July 26, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

WARSAW, March 31 (Reuters) - Tariffs on Ukrainian agricultural imports may need to be reintroduced if an influx of products that is pushing down prices in European Union markets cannot be stopped by other means, the prime ministers of five eastern states said on Friday.

In a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen published on a Polish government website, the prime ministers of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia said that the scale of the increase of products including grains oilseeds, eggs, poultry and sugar had been "unprecedented".

Ukraine, one of the world's largest grain exporters, had its Black Sea ports blocked following Russia's February 2022 invasion and found alternative shipping routes through European Union states Poland and Romania.

Logistical bottlenecks mean large quantities of Ukrainian grains, which are cheaper than those produced in the EU, have ended up in central European states, hitting prices and sales of local farmers.

In the letter the prime ministers called for a variety of measures to limit market distortions caused by Ukrainian imports, but said that if these were not successful tariffs and tariff quotas should be reintroduced.

"Let's support Ukraine, but let's do it wisely and, above all, let's put the interest of the country and Polish farmers in the first place," Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Twitter.

Among the measures proposed in the letter was a joint solution between the EU and the World Food Program to ensure Ukrainian grain does not end up in EU markets.

They reiterated calls for more funds to help farmers and for faster development of transport infrastructure to help with the transport of goods from Ukraine.

They also called for changes to laws on agricultural imports that would help regulate the volume and direction of the inflow of agricultural products.

Reporting by Alan Charlish, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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