The EU quota for imported sugar from Ukraine is already filled, Kyiv producers warn

The sugar volumes exported to Europe have reached their limit, established in the new ‘trade benefits’ regulation, Ukrainian producers are calling for the EU to stop importing sugar from their country for 2024.

“We addressed the Ukrainian Government with the request to close the border for the export of sugar to the EU till the end of 2024,” to implement rules on exports wrote the association of producers, Ukrtsugar, in a press release.

The block recently extended the suspension of import duties and quotas on Ukrainian products by one year until 5 June 2025. “Emergency brakes” have been introduced for particularly sensitive agricultural products, including sugar.

The emergency brake is triggered if Ukrainian exports of this commodity to the EU exceed the average volume recorded between 1 July 2021 and 31 December 2023, i.e. 262,652.68 tonnes of white sugar in 2024.

However, since January 2024, Ukrainian imports have been running at around 50,000 tonnes per month, rapidly crossing the threshold.

According to EU officials, in a meeting between member states, the Commission signalled today, that the sugar quantitative limit has nearly been reached. The executive announced that it is preparing a legislative act to clarify the details of the emergency break implementation.

At least for sugar, the extension of trade benefits for Ukraine might expire even before starting.

Impact on European farmers

According to the Commission data, sugar imports from Ukraine has risen from 40,172 tonnes in 2021 – 2022, to 406,777 tonnes in 2022 – 2023.

This influx of sugar and other products such as cereals, particularly in Romania, prompted farmers to demand safeguard measures.

According to Commission figures, Romania received 130,200 tonnes of Ukrainian sugar in 2022-2023, compared with an average of 11,000 tonnes before the war. Poland received 47,200 tonnes, compared with an average of 5,300 tonnes.

For its part, the European agri-food industry pointed to the lack of European production and the need to bring in “more sugar from Ukraine,” in order to establish “a long-term source of supply.”

Ukraine remains Europe’s second-largest sugar supplier, behind Brazil, which exported 802,200 tonnes of raw cane sugar to the EU last season.

Ukrainian sugar producers call for borders to be closed

For Ukrainian sugar producers, the EU must now stop Ukrainian imports until January 2025. A measure that is necessary given that export is carried out also by other non-Ukrainian companies, for example, traders.

Contacted by Euractiv, the Ukrtsugar organisation said that they want to show the Commission that they can “play by the rules”, as set out in the agreement, in a bid to integrate into the European sugar market.

Ukraine can fall back on other partners in the Mediterranean region – Tunisia, Lebanon and Turkey – and West Africa – Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger and Mauritania. According to Ukrtsugar, these exports account for more than a third of Ukrainian production.

However, the organisation is asking the EU to increase the exportable volume when the current contract expires on 5 June 2025.

Producers are now awaiting a reaction from the Ukrainian government and the European Commission. Under the new regulation on trade benefits to Ukraine, when imports reach their limit, the Commission has fourteen days to reintroduce the quota before 2022, i.e. around 20,000 tonnes.

Member states push for further safeguards against Ukrainian imports

With little time before the expiration of wartime trade benefits granted to Kyiv, and despite the compromise deal reached with the European Parliament last week, a Polish-led coalition of EU countries has succeeded in reopening negotiations to enhance safeguards against market distortions.

[Edited by Angelo Di Mambro and Rajnish Singh]

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