Bulgaria’s caretaker Agriculture Minister: Ukrainian import ban will not cause bread, sunflower price rises

Bulgaria’s caretaker Agriculture Minister Yavor Gechev says that he does not believe that the country’s temporary ban on several foodstuffs from Ukraine will result in increases in the prices of bread, sunflower and wheat.

“There are enough quantities in Bulgaria, such that they can hardly even be sold. I will be the first to demand the return of the old trading system, if the prices start to rise massively,” Gechev told Bulgarian National Television in an appearance on the broadcaster’s weekly Panorama talk show.

He said that he would hold a meeting on April 22 with the largest sunflower producers in Bulgaria, and the ministry was ready to mediate in the trade.

As The Sofia Globe reported, the Oilseed Oil Producers Association in Bulgaria has responded to the caretaker government’s move by saying that the temporary ban on the import of grains and oil seed crops from Ukraine will lead to the bankruptcy of vegetable oil processing companies in Bulgaria, as well as higher consumer prices and job losses.

Gechev said that he expects that the European Commission will propose that four main crops – maize, wheat, sunflower and soybean – be banned for import from Ukraine to the most affected EU countries. The measure should last until June 5.

“In the meantime, if the market is unclogged, we can raise the barrier ourselves. We can fully comply with the EU decision and revoke our national decision. We have always said that the EU should be monolithic and there should be common decisions,” he said.

Bulgaria will insist on the inclusion of other products from Ukraine, which are “excessively” imported into Bulgaria – powdered milk, sunflower oil and honey, Gechev said.

The EC’s condition is that on acceptance of its proposed package of assistance for farmers in the four countries affected by imports from Ukraine – Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary – those countries must lift their unilateral bans.

According to Gechev, anything could change by April 25, when EU agriculture ministers are to meet.

One of the items on the agenda of that meeting is “based on information provided by the [European] Commission and member states, the Council will take stock of the market situation for agrifood products in the EU, with a particular focus on the impact of the war in Ukraine”.

(Screenshot via BNT)

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