24 Apr 2024 12:36

Grain transit from Russia through Lithuania up sharply after stricter border checks, while imports drop to almost zero

VILNIUS. April 24 (Interfax/BNS) - Tighter controls over grain imports from Russia and Belarus into Lithuania introduced a month ago have all but stopped grain imports into the country, but transit shipments to other EU markets have risen significantly, Lithuania's State Food and Veterinary Service (SFVS), which inspects the shipments, said.

"We have seen a 95% reduction in imports from Russia and Belarus into Lithuania since March 18, but we have seen [an increase] in imports into Lithuania for importation to other EU countries," SFVS Director Audrone Mikalauskiene told BNS.

Since March 18, SFVS has been inspecting every wagon or vehicle transporting grain from Russia and Belarus, verifying the origin of the grain and, as before, determining whether there are prohibited impurities in grain shipments intended for the EU market.

The markets of Germany, Denmark, France, Belgium, the Czech Republic and other Community countries received 184 consignments of grain transported through Lithuania from January 1 to March 18, while from March 18 to April 16, the number had jumped to 317 consignments, Mikalauskiene said.

The SFVS said that an average of 20-25 consignments of Russian or Belarusian feed per day were being sent for importation into Lithuania until March 18.

During the first month of tightened inspections, 38 trucks transporting 1,068 tonnes of feed from Russia and Belarus were inspected. Three were allowed to make their deliveries, while the rest are still undergoing laboratory tests. Last week, there were no feed shipments to the Lithuanian market detected.

In addition, Russian and Belarusian grain and processed products for final consumption have not been imported into Lithuania since March 18. An additional six trucks transporting feed from Russia and 15 from Belarus were turned away at the border due to document discrepancies.

According to the SPVS, 292 consignments of grain with a total weight of 18,000 tonnes were imported from Russia and Belarus into EU countries via Lithuania from March 18 through April 16.

Mikalauskiene said that just last week, 25 consignments of grain transited through the Klaipeda port to Germany.

Information provided to BNS by Lithuania's State Data Agency shows that about 12,200 tonnes of corn worth 1.95 million euro were imported from Russia to Lithuania in January and February. At the same time, 30,120 tonnes of Russian corn worth 7.77 million euro, and 6,190 tonnes of buckwheat, sorghum and other grain crops worth 2.76 million euro were imported to Lithuania last year, as well as 1,530 tonnes of Belarusian wheat and meslin (a mixture of rye and wheat) worth 355,400 euro.

In March, the European Commission (EC) proposed introducing maximum import tariffs on grains, oilseeds and their processed products of Russian origin, including wheat, corn and sunflower meal, in order to stop Russian agricultural products from entering the EU market. At the same time, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland and the Czech Republic called on the EC to completely ban imports of Russian and Belarusian grain into the EU.

Last year 4.8 million tonnes of grain worth 1.5 billion euro were imported from Russia and Belarus into the EU, the EC said.