EUROPE -The European Union (EU) Council has adopted stringent tariffs on grain products imported from Russia and Belarus, effective July 1. 

This move responds to ongoing geopolitical tensions and aims to curtail imports that could destabilize the EU’s grain market.

The newly approved regulation significantly increases import tariffs on various agricultural products, including cereals, oilseeds, derived products, beet-pulp pellets, and dried peas from Russia and Belarus. Previously, these goods enjoyed low or no tariffs. 

Moreover, they will now be excluded from the EU’s tariff rate quotas, which allow limited quantities of imports at reduced tariff rates.

According to the EU Council, these measures will effectively halt imports of these products by imposing prohibitive duties. The regulation specifically targets products originating from or exported directly or indirectly from Russia and Belarus to the EU. However, it will not impede their transit through the EU to other third countries.

Belgian Minister for Finance, Vincent Van Peteghem, emphasized the strategic intent behind the tariffs. “The new tariffs set today aim to stop grain imports from Russia and Belarus into the EU in practice. 

These measures will prevent the destabilization of the EU’s grain market, halt Russian exports of illegally appropriated grain produced in Ukraine’s territories, and prevent Russia from using revenues from exports to the EU to fund its war of aggression against Ukraine. This is yet another way the EU shows steady support to Ukraine.”

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the EU’s grain imports from Russia have increased notably. Although Russia is a relatively minor supplier to the EU, it remains a leading global producer and exporter.

The EU Council expressed concerns that Russia could redirect substantial grain exports to the EU, potentially disrupting the market with a sudden influx from its large existing stocks.

Russia is projected to export a record 53 million tonnes of wheat in the current marketing year, capturing a global market share of 26%, its highest ever.

According to the latest International Grains Council (IGC) Grain Market Report, this figure significantly surpasses the EU’s forecasted wheat exports of 35 million tonnes for 2023-24.

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