EC proposes increased tariffs on Russian and Belarusian grain products

The European Commission (EC) is today proposing to increase the tariffs on imports into the EU of cereals, oilseeds, and derived products (‘grain products’) from Russia and Belarus, including wheat, maize, and sunflower meal, the EC said on March 22.

These tariffs, while high enough to suppress such imports into the EU in practice, would not affect exports to third countries, the EC said.

It said that the measures are designed to achieve several objectives.

One is to prevent EU market destabilisation through any future significant redirection of Russian grain products onto the EU market. The EU farming community has, in particular, expressed concerns about this risk – Russia’s role as a leading global grain exporter, coupled with its willingness to use food exports as a geopolitical tool, shows that it is high.

Another is to tackle Russian exports of illegally appropriated grain produced in the territories of Ukraine, some of which has been illegally exported to the EU market deliberately mislabelled as “Russian”. The tariffs proposed today will ensure that this illicit export method is no longer profitable.

A third is to prevent Russia from using revenues from exports to the EU – of both Russian and illegally appropriated Ukrainian grain products – to fund its war of aggression against Ukraine. As Russia exported some 1.3 billion euro worth of such products to the EU in 2023, these EU tariffs will cut off another important source of profit for the Russian economy and, by extension, the Russian war machine.

European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “We propose the imposition of tariffs on these Russian imports to mitigate the growing risk to our markets and our farmers.

“They will reduce Russia’s capacity to exploit the EU for the benefit of its war machine. And we maintain our commitment to preserving global food security, especially for developing countries. We are striking the right balance between supporting our economy and farming communities. At the same time, we maintain our unyielding support for Ukraine,” Von der Leyen said.

The increased tariffs would also apply to Belarus in light of the country’s close political and economic ties to Russia. Moreover, by including Belarus in the new measure, the EU will prevent Russia from using Belarus to circumvent the new tariffs and channel its goods onto the EU market.

The transit of cereals, oilseeds and derived products from Russia and Belarus to third countries is unaffected by today’s proposal. This shows that the European Union remains fully committed to promoting food security globally, especially when it comes to developing countries.

More than two years after the start of Russia’s full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine, Europe is united and determined to continue defending our values and founding principles.

“The EU stands firmly with Ukraine and its people, and will continue to strongly support Ukraine’s economy, as well as its society, armed forces, and future reconstruction, for as long as it takes,” the EC said.

The proposal will now be considered by the Council of the European Union. Once adopted by the Council, the tariffs will immediately be applied, the EC said.

(Photo: Christa Richert/

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