EU proposes hitting Russia, Belarus grain imports with tariffs

By Thomson Reuters Mar 22, 2024 | 4:22 AM

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -The European Commission proposed on Friday imposing tariffs on imports of grain from Russia and Belarus in an attempt to curb the income of Moscow and its ally and placate farmers who have protested for months over cheap imports.

The Commission said the tariffs were designed to prevent the risk of this grain destabilising the EU market, to limit Russia’s ability to fund its war in Ukraine and to curb its sales of grain stolen from Ukraine.

Transit of grain through the bloc to other countries would still be allowed so as not to disturb global supplies, the Commission said.

Traders said earlier this week that Russian and Belarusian shipments to the bloc are low, certainly relative to those from Ukraine, and that the imposition of tariffs was largely symbolic.

However, the Commission said there was a risk imports could increase, given Russian overall wheat exports had risen to 50 million tonnes from a more usual 35 million tonnes.

The tariffs will be 95 euros ($102.76) per tonne for cereals and 50% for oilseeds. They can be applied after approval from EU governments.

The proposal came as European Union leaders debated the EU response to farmer complaints over environmental rules and the suspension of tariffs on agricultural imports from Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in 2022.

($1 = 0.9245 euros)

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop;Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Tomasz Janowski)