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Hungary managed to keep its ban on Ukrainian grain uninterrupted — minister

"We will not allow any loopholes to be used," Agriculture Minister Istvan Nagy said

BUDAPEST, May 14. /TASS/. Hungary has managed to keep the ban on Ukrainian grain imports uninterrupted as it replaced its unilateral embargo with common EU regulations, Agriculture Minister Istvan Nagy said, commenting on new rules related to Ukrainian agriculture products.

"We maintain the ban on imports of Ukrainian grain. However, national restrictions have been replaced with the EU ban on its sales [in five eastern European countries]. It comes as a result of joint actions by Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania, which made Brussels concede," Nagy said in a statement, posted on his ministry’s website late on Saturday.

The minister reiterated that a temporary ban on imports of Ukrainian wheat, corn, sunflower and rapeseed to the five eastern European nations went into force on May 2, in accordance with the European Commission’s decision. Earlier, the five countries prohibited imports of those products at the national level.

"In order to ensure the consistency of the import ban, [Hungary’s] national regulations that prohibit imports of Ukrainian agricultural products will remain in place for contracts signed before May 2, 2023," he said.

He also said that Hungary permits transit of Ukrainian grain via its territory. However, the transportation should not take longer than 15 days, while relevant services will make sure that the cargo travels along the designated route and is received by the intended customer. Cargo will be placed under seals when crossing the border, and the transportation process will be registered in the electronic database.

"Competent state agencies will do everything possible to prevent any tampering with the deliveries. We will not allow any loopholes to be used," Nagy warned.

In April 2023, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia unilaterally decided to ban imports of agricultural products from Ukraine due to overstocking of their markets, bringing local farmers on the brink of ruin. The countries plan to continue talks with the European Commission to further extend the ban, which is to officially remain in place only until June 5. According to Nagy, there have been verbal agreements to keep the ban in place after that date, but Hungary is seeking written guarantees from decision-makers in Brussels.

Earlier this week, Poland said that it would like to keep the ban in place until at least 2024. In turn, Hungary is calling for a "joint coordinated action" in this regard, the Hungarian agriculture minister said.