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New discussions around the Ukrainian grain

Нови дискусии около украинското зърно

Eastern European Union countries are demanding that the EU impose import duties on Ukraine's cereals, citing unfair competition, Hungary's agriculture ministry said on Monday.

The ministry said agriculture ministers from Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia had sent a letter to the European Commission asking for the measures, saying cheaper agricultural products from Ukraine were eating into their export markets.

By all accounts, the request is not without merit. Grain exports from Ukraine this month (so far) have reached 2.1 million tonnes, up from 1.7 million a year earlier, according to data from Ukraine's customs authorities. The Ministry of Agriculture in the country confirmed these figures, but there was no explanation for them.

However, Ukraine's grain exports in the 2023/24 July-June marketing season have so far fallen to around 20.6 million tonnes from almost 24.5 million at the same stage last year, the data showed.

Exports include almost 8.2 million tons of wheat, 11 million tons of corn and 1.2 million tons of barley.

By January 16 of the previous season, Ukraine had exported 8.9 million tons of wheat, 13.8 million tons of corn and 1.7 million tons of barley.

The Ukrainian government expects a crop of 81.3 million tonnes of grain and oilseeds in 2023, with an export surplus for 2023/24 of around 50 million tonnes.

According to the USDA forecast, wheat exports from Ukraine will increase by 1.5 million tons to 14 million tons in the 2023/24 marketing year. Wheat production will increase by 0.9 million tons to 23.4 million tons.

The forecast for Ukrainian corn production and exports remains unchanged at 30.5 million and 21 million tons, respectively.

At the same time, Ukraine came up with new accusations against Moscow. According to a state representative, the Russians collected and exported 4.8 million tons of grain from the occupied territories in 2023.

"In addition, in the occupied territories there is a scheme where all farmers must provide grain to the Russians at a fixed price, significantly lower than the market price. Subsequently, Russian-appointed agents resell the grain and pocket the difference. This difference serves as payment by the Kremlin for their loyalty," he concluded at the Davos conference.

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