By Chris King •
Updated: 18 Apr 2023 • 1:29
Credit: maradon 333/Shutterstock.com
Slovakia, Hungary and Poland have all announced that they will suspend imports of Ukrainian agricultural products. Essentially this applies to cereals and grain. Bulgaria and Romania are also said to contemplating similar action.
This move could have a huge impact on Spain, the biggest buyer of goods via the Black Sea corridor in Europe, and second only in the world to China.
The Black Sea is the corridor through which grain is transported from Ukraine to the rest of Europe. Internally, the entry without quotas or tariffs of thousands of tons of Ukrainian grain in recent months has had an impact on the internal markets of these three countries, unbalancing them.
Ukraine happens to be one of the great granaries of the world. Its grain – currently due to the support of the European Union to Kyiv – enters community territory without the same demands or controls of imports from other third countries.
At the moment, the European Commission is studying the measure, since it is responsible for commercial matters. Spain may be forced to import more Ukrainian grain due to the drought, so it would be the last party interested in introducing tariffs or other controls on these goods.
The massive introduction of Ukrainian grain has recently generated significant protests by farmers in Poland. Their anger led to the resignation last week of Henryk Kowalczyk, the former Minister of Agriculture. He had asked Brussels to recover tariff controls on this raw material.
Now, the government of the Law and Justice Party (PiS) has decided to cut their losses in the face of the impact that this situation may have on the upcoming elections in this country in November. PiS, a very conservative party, has farmers and ranchers as an important part of its voters.
The weight of the primary sector in Hungary and Slovakia, as well as the excess supply of cereals in these countries, has led both European nations to follow the Polish example and put a stop to Ukrainian agricultural imports.
Spain’s interest in Ukrainian grain is currently further aggravated by the effects of the drought, which is already reducing the local production of cereals such as wheat and barley.
Specifically, according to the Spanish Cereal Balance for the 2022-2023 campaign, the national production of about 24 million tons was outweighed by the demand for around 37.73 million tons. As a result, some 14.73 million tons had to be imported. Most of this grain is intended to feed one of Spain’s large agri-food industries, the pig sector.
After China and the United States, Spain is the third largest pork producer in the world, with a herd of 32.5 million head. It is among the leading exporters globally.
According to the Interprofessional del Porcino de Capa Blanca (Interporc), last year, almost three million tons were exported for a value close to €8,279 million, which was sold to more than 100 countries.
The Interactive Report on Foreign Trade, prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture, estimated foreign sales for an amount of €6,796.51 million and imports that barely exceeded €271. It is an activity that had 48,768 farms and more than 2,600 industries throughout Spain in 2022.
In a move to clarify the situation, the European Commission has already requested more information from the authorities of Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. It wants to determine whether the measure they have adopted is illegal since trade policy is exclusive to the European Union.
Meanwhile, Brussels has opened its chequebook and enabled aid of €56.3 million financed by the agricultural reserve for Bulgarian, Polish and Romanian farmers affected by the entry of grain from Ukraine, as reported by lainformacion.com.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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