Hungary’s ban on Ukrainian agricultural products criticised from within

The Hungarian ban on imports of Ukrainian agricultural products will lead to shortages and undermine efforts to curb the highest inflation rate in the European Union, Hungary’s grain lobby says.

For in-depth analysis and longer stories, follow us on LinkedIn

In an interview with Bloomberg, Zsofia Potsa, secretary-general of the Hungarian Grain Association, said that Hungary needs to import about 700,000 tonnes of feed corn after last year's poor harvest, with Ukraine the cheapest supplier.

"Our members are desperate and don’t support any import bans, in fact we need imports," Ms Potsa said.

The Hungarian Grain Association represents millers, grain processors, and traders who produce everything from basic food items like flour and sugar to animal feed and ethanol.

Earlier in April, prime minister Viktor Orban’s government joined Poland, Slovakia to impose a ban on Ukrainian grains and selected agricultural products until the end of June, with Bulgaria following suit.

While those EU nations argue that such shipments could hurt domestic producers, Ms Potsa said that blocking those flows would keep pressure on food prices in Hungary, whose inflation rate is exceeding 25 percent.

Last week, the European commission proposed to allocate EUR 100 million for EU farmers in exchange for lifting the ban on Ukrainian agricultural imports, but negotiations are still ongoing.