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EU finally approves extension of duty-free trade with Ukraine

The updated rules will come into effect on 6 June and will remain in force for a year.

EU finally approves extension of duty-free trade with Ukraine
Photo: EPA/UPG

The Council of the European Union has finally approved the extension of autonomous trade measures for Ukraine, which provide for the suspension of import duties and quotas on Ukrainian exports to the EU. 

This is stated on the website of the European Commission, Ukrinform reports.

"The suspension of customs duties and quotas for Ukrainian exports to the EU will be extended for another year in accordance with today's decision of the EU Council and the vote in the European Parliament of 23 April. Thus, the EU has once again confirmed its commitment to support Ukraine for as long as necessary," the statement said.

The autonomous trade measures have been in place since June 2022 and have caused some concern among European countries. In particular, given the significant increase in imports of certain agricultural products from Ukraine to the EU in 2022 and 2023, the updated ADMs contain enhanced safeguard mechanisms. 

This allows for rapid corrective measures to be taken in the event of significant disruptions in the market of the EU, one or more Community member states. 

Thus, additional safeguard measures may be applied to products such as chicken eggs, chicken, sugar, oats, corn, cereals and honey. If the volume of imports of these products reaches the average annual volume of imports from Ukraine to the EU in the period from 1 July 2021 to 31 December 2023, these safeguards will be automatically applied.

The European Commission is also conducting consultations with Ukraine under Article 29 of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement to agree on a longer timeframe for further tariff liberalisation based on reciprocity.

This process should ensure a stable framework for trade in both Ukraine and the EU, for their farmers and businesses. These measures are an important step towards Ukraine's recovery and further integration into the EU's internal market.

The updated autonomous trade measures will enter into force on 6 June and will remain in force until 5 June 2025.

  • With the start of Russia's large-scale invasion, the EU cancelled tariffs on Ukrainian imports to support the Ukrainian economy. This was especially important because of the Russian blockade of Ukraine's grain export routes by sea. But the sudden emergence of duty-free grain flooded the markets of neighbouring countries such as Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, angering local farmers who saw the cheap Ukrainian imports as unfair competition. The governments responded by imposing unilateral, uncoordinated bans, which the European Commission called illegal, unfair and contrary to the principle of solidarity.
  • Earlier, foreign media reported that several EU countries were against the continuation of duty-free imports of goods from Ukraine. Last week, France and Poland, as well as Hungary and Slovakia, rejected a compromise agreement to extend Ukraine's duty-free access to the EU. Paris and Warsaw even argued that new restrictions on honey and grain were not enough.
  • Recently, Ukrainian Prime Minister Shmyhal said that the European Parliament and the European Council had preliminarily agreed to extend the import of Ukrainian goods without duties and quotas until June 2025. The agreement is expected to be adopted in April.
  • Earlier, in January, the European Commission proposed to extend the economic visa-free regime for another year, but with changes. In particular, for the most sensitive products - poultry, eggs and sugar - an emergency brake is envisaged, which would stabilise imports at the level of average imports in 2022 and 2023.
  • If the agreement is approved, the temporary suspension of import duties and quotas on Ukrainian agricultural exports to the EU will be extended for another year, until 5 June 2025.

In January 2024, the agriculture ministers of Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary appealed to Brussels to impose import duties on Ukrainian grain.

In March, EU ambassadors approved the extension of trade visa-free travel with Ukraine for the next year, with the only clarification on the conditions for applying safeguard restrictions.

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