site.btaUPDATED Agriculture Minister Gechev Says Bulgaria Also Mulling Ban on Ukrainian Grain Imports, European Commission Warns against Unilateral Steps
Bulgaria is also mulling to ban Ukrainian grain imports as Poland and Hungary have done already, Agriculture Minister Yavor Gechev said here, as reported by the Bulgarian National Radio on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Reuters quoted a European Commission spokesperson as saying on Sunday that unilateral action on trade by European Union member states is unacceptable. The statement came after Poland and Hungary announced bans on grain and other food imports from Ukraine to protect the local agricultural sector.
"Bulgarian interests must be safeguarded to, particularly when two of the countries (concerned) react in this way. If we do not react in a similar manner, the accumulation on Bulgarian territory may become even bigger," Gechev said. The reports on the legal grounds for imposing the bans by the relevant authorities in the other countries are expected on Monday. The Agriculture Ministry is also working with the Economy Minister who is responsible for this type of measure. After all the relevant information is collected, Gechev expects to communicate with the President, who has direct responsibilities in this situation, on Tuesday, so it is a matter of time, he said.
The moves come in wake of a wave of grain producer and farmer protests in Bulgaria and Romania against duty-free import of Ukrainian goods and calling for equal treatment. Bulgaria requested a response from Brussels last September, Gechev recalled.
"We are aware of Poland and Hungary's announcements regarding the ban on imports of grain and other agricultural products from Ukraine," the EC spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "In this context, it is important to underline that trade policy is of EU exclusive competence and, therefore, unilateral actions are not acceptable," the statement further reads.