Hungary asks EU to extend import curbs on grains from Ukraine at least until end-2023

A crane moves a container at Europe's largest land-based intermodal container terminal East-West Gate in Fenyeslitke, Hungary, October 18, 2022. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary has asked the EU to extend import curbs on Ukraine grains and oilseed crops for five Eastern European states at least until the end of 2023, Ministry of Agriculture State Secretary Zsolt Feldman said.

Feldman told state news agency MTI late on Tuesday that Hungary also asked Brussels to grant financial support to local farmers to facilitate the transport of grain stocks stuck in domestic storage before this year's harvest.

"Our interest is that Hungary's harvest could be completed safely and Hungarian farmers could be able to sell their product," Feldman said after a meeting of EU farm ministers in Brussels.

The EU on May 2 set restrictions until June 5 on imports of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower seed to ease the excess supply of the grains in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

Those countries had complained cheaper Ukrainian grain was making domestic production unprofitable.

The EU executive arm said that during that period, Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower seed can be sold to any other country in the 27-nation bloc.

The EU had earlier liberalised all imports from Ukraine to help Kyiv's efforts to fend off Russia's invasion. The five countries became transit routes for Ukrainian grain that could not be exported through its Black Sea ports because the war.

The Commission said it could extend the grain import restrictions beyond 5 June if exceptional conditions continue.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Tom Hogue and Andrew Heavens)

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