EU Countries Agree ‘Prohibitive’ Tariffs on Russia Grain Imports

Thu May 30 2024
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BRUSSELS: European Union states agreed on Thursday to impose “prohibitive” tariffs on grain imports from Russia in a bid to restrict revenues to Moscow for its war on Ukraine.

The EU has hit Russia with multiple rounds of sanctions to inflict damage on its war chest following its all-out invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The latest initiative will notably “tackle illegal Russian exports of stolen Ukraine grain into EU markets”, Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU’s trade commissioner, said on social media.

The duties will also be applied to products from Belarus, which served as a staging ground for Russia’s attack on Ukraine.  But the tariffs will not apply to Russian grain transiting through the EU to nations outside the bloc, to ensure that food supplies elsewhere are not impacted.

The European Commission proposed the move in March. Under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, virtually all Russian grain has until now been exempt from EU import duties.

From July 1, the bloc will increase duties on oilseeds, cereals, and derived products from Russia and Belarus to a point that will in practice halt imports of these products, the council representing the EU’s 27 member countries said.

These steps will therefore prevent the destabilization of the EU’s grain market and halt Russian exports of illegally appropriated grain produced in the territories of Ukraine, said Vincent Van Peteghem, Belgian minister for finance.  This is yet another way in which the bloc is showing steady support to Ukraine, he added.

Russia’s Warning

Russia at the time warned against the decision. Consumers in Europe would definitely suffer, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in March.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had told EU leaders earlier this year that it was unfair that Russian grain maintained access to their markets, while Ukrainian imports faced restrictions.

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