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The EU’s new import deal would support Ukraine while protecting the bloc’s farmers

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union lawmakers agreed Wednesday to extend Ukraine’s import tariffs, in place since shortly after Russia’s invasion, while adding protective measures on agricultural products such as grain and honey to address concerns of farmers in to take away the 27 countries. block.

Farmers angry about red tape and competition from cheap imports from select countries have protested vigorously across the bloc in recent weeks. Poland was among the countries leading the charge against duty-free imports after Polish farmers in February blocked border crossings with Ukraine, spilled Ukrainian grain and burned tires as they staged a nationwide protest against Ukrainian food imports and the country’s environmental policies. European Union intensified.

Under the deal struck in the early hours of Wednesday, the EU would extend its temporary suspension of tariffs and quotas on Ukrainian agricultural exports to the bloc, first granted in 2022 to support Ukraine in the war against Russia.

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However, it comes with a strengthened safeguard that will force the EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, “to reintroduce tariff rate quotas if imports of poultry, eggs, sugar, oats, maize, groats and honey” exceed average import volumes exceeds in the EU. 2022 and 2023. This would limit cheap imports of those goods with the aim of keeping domestic farmers competitive in the market for such staples.

The contingency initially included poultry, eggs and sugar, but was expanded to include oats, corn, groats and honey.

EU lawmakers said they have also received “firm commitments from the Commission to take action if Ukrainian imports of wheat increase.”

Parliament rapporteur Sandra Kalniete said the deal strikes a good balance between the need to assist Ukraine and protect the interests of EU farmers.

“Russia’s attacks on Ukraine and its food production also impact EU farmers,” she said. “Parliament heard their concerns and strengthened safeguard measures that would ease pressure on EU farmers if they were overwhelmed by a sudden surge in Ukrainian imports.”

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The agreement, which was concluded on the eve of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels, now needs to be formally approved by both Parliament and member states to enter into force in early June and be extended until June 5, 2025.

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