27 Mar 2024 11:23

European agriculture commissioner warns about risks of limiting imports from Russia

BRUSSELS. March 26 (Interfax) - One should not forget about EU agricultural exports to Russia when limiting Russian agricultural imports to the European Union, European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski said.

"About the trade with Russia, as you know, the European Council decided to introduce some barriers for this trade, some limitation, to introduce the tariffs reducing the imports from Russia. You asked about the imports of grain from Russia, this is just about 12.5 million tonnes to the whole European Union. What is the sensitive question in relation to our agrifood trade with Russia, [...] it was the political decision in June 2022 to exclude food and agrifood products from the sanction system," Wojciechowski said at a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday after a meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council.

"Now, there is openness to limit the import from Russia, but we have also to remember that the trade is to the both sides. The European Union exports agrifood to Russia. That was 7 billion euros in 2023," he said.

Wojciechowski said this situation differs from trade with Ukraine, given that Ukrainian agricultural imports into the EU reached 11.5 billion euros in 2023, compared to 3 billion euros of EU agricultural exports to Ukraine. The 8.5-billion-euro deficit puts EU farmers in a disadvantageous position, he said.

"This is a reason that we have to compensate for our farmers these losses," Wojciechowski said, adding that the European Council's conclusions addressed state assistance to European farmers on March 21-22.

Following the EU summit on March 21-22, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Commission had proposed increasing EU import duties on Russian and Belarusian grain products.