site.btaUPDATED Parliament Votes to Lift Ban on Ukrainian Grain Imports
The National Assembly Thursday voted to scrap the ban on the imports of certain Ukrainian products after September 15, 2023. The draft resolution, tabled by MPs of GERB-UDF, Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria, and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), was adopted with 124 votes in favour, 69 against (Vazrazhdane, There Is Such a People, BSP for Bulgaria, and an independent MP) and 8 abstentions (GERB-UDF). The Council of Ministers now has to take the necessary actions to express that position of Bulgaria.
The resolution reads that taking into view Bulgaria's solidarity with Ukraine and considering the need of agricultural product supplies for global food security, Bulgaria does not support the extension beyond September 15, 2023 of the ban on Ukrainian wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower seed imports in Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. According to the resolution, the lift of the ban will not put at risk Bulgarian agricultural producers' competitiveness.
Before the vote, Agriculture and Food Minister Kiril Vatev told Parliament that he agreed with macroeconomic indicators shown to the Council of Ministers, according to which the notion of Bulgaria giving up its demand to continue the ban on imports from Ukraine is "not so worrying". The Minister said that among the measures that will be implemented is increasing the control on all imported Ukrainian goods, especially cereals, and strictly controlling the presence of radioactivity and heavy metals, herbicides and pesticides.
During the parliamentary debate, Dessislava Taneva MP of GERB-UDF said that the resolution will practically have absolutely no consequences, because the ban will be lifted on Friday anyway given the EU regulations in effect. In her words, strengthening the inequality on the common European market creates tension, and decisions that are the exact opposite of what has been debated for months on end erode the trust between power holders and society.
Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria co-floor leader Iskren Mitev commented that the ban on Ukrainian grain imports does not work. Lifting it is the right decision, because then producers will receive subsidies and a reform and citizens, an opportunity for a decrease in the price pressure.
Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria co-floor leader Kiril Petkov said that he wants cheaper meat and bread. “Our animal breeders need support for the price of feed,” he argued, adding that he believes Agriculture Minister Vatev will protect Bulgaria agriculture’s interests.
Vazrazhdane floor leader Kostadin Kostadinov said that Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland do not indent to lift the ban. He asked what the macroeconomic analysis is that made the Agriculture Minister change his opinion on the matter and whether that analysis had something to do with Delyan Peevski MP of MRF. In Ukraine, it is allowed to use GMO in agriculture and the level of control is very low, while in Bulgaria it is prohibited to use GMO. One of the reasons for the lower price of produce in Ukraine is the European Commission’s requirements. A dumping import will be carried out, he argued.
BSP for Bulgaria floor leader Korneliya Ninova said that her parliamentary group considers the resolution a betrayal to the Bulgarian national interest and a provocation to the EU and the common interests in the common European home. The resolution will cause protests of Bulgarian producers and will be a knife in the back of those countries that “you lied to four times that we will fight together against dumping and protect each other’s interests.” There will be a social impact as well, because the Government’s lies that the lifting of the ban will reduce inflation and prices will be exposed in just a month, Ninova argued.
There Is Such a People floor leader Toshko Yordanov commented that the Council of Ministers is yet again trying to wash their hands with the National Assembly. In his words, a government which does that is an incompetent one. Hiding behind Parliament will not save the incumbent from the responsibility to face the people who will take to the streets, Yordanov said.
Independent MP Radostin Vassilev said that the resolution is not based on an economic analysis but on an order given to the Agriculture Minister.