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Hungary to allow transit of Ukrainian grain, protect farmers – minister

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary will continue to allow transit of Ukrainian grain, ensuring the departure of such shipments “in a controlled manner,” its agriculture minister, Istvan Nagy, told state news agency MTI after talks in Brussels.

Nagy was also cited by MTI late on Wednesday as saying that talks were underway about further products that could fall under a current import ban, in addition to wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower.

The European Commission said on Wednesday it would take emergency “preventive measures” for wheat, maize, sunflower seeds and rapeseed after a joint complaint from Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia at the end of March.

Read More: Russia/Ukraine War a threat to domestic food security

This followed Poland and Hungary last weekend banning some imports from Ukraine. Other Eastern European countries said they were considering similar action.

“It was worthwhile for Hungary to take firm action and protect the interests of Hungarian farmers,” Nagy said, referring to the ban, adding the measures forced Brussels to take action.

An EU official said this would only allow the grains to enter the five countries from Ukraine if they were set for export to other EU members or the rest of the world. This measure would last until the end of June.

Read More: Russia accuses Ukraine of sabotaging grain deal with a bribery scheme

The countries became transit routes for Ukrainian grain that could not be exported through Ukraine’s Black Sea ports because of Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

Bottlenecks then trapped millions of tons of grains in countries bordering Ukraine, forcing local farmers to compete with an influx of cheap Ukrainian imports which they said distorted prices and demand.

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