Romanian farmers’ organizations have joined forces and written a letter to the government that the ban on Ukrainian grain is being evaded by relabeling it as Moldovan wheat. Romania was one of five countries that joined a blanket ban on a number of Ukrainian agricultural products, including grain, but Ukraine may be avoiding the embargo by first transiting its grain through Moldova.
The farmers refer to data from the Romanian Statistical Office, which indicate that a significant part of the Ukrainian products arrived in Romania via the Republic of Moldova as Moldovan goods.
In May 2023, when the export ban came into effect, 14,500 tons of wheat arrived in Romania from Moldova, and in June a little more than that. In comparison, in April and May of 2022, Romania did not import a single gram of wheat from Moldova, and only 548 tons in June.
The tremendous increase in Moldovan grain exports appeared to coincide with Romania’s ban on Ukrainian grain. If the allegations are true, it would mean that Ukraine is effectively using the same tactics Russia has used to evade sanctions via intermediary countries such as Kazakhstan and India.
According to Hungarian news outlet Magyar Nemzet, Romanian farmers organizations suspended their ongoing protest actions against the import of Ukrainian grain for 30 days after they held talks with the Minister of Agriculture Florin Barbu on Monday evening, according to an announcement on Monday from Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu.
Romania considers reinstating import ban on Ukrainian grain
After Sept. 15, when the EU decided it would allow Ukrainian grain to be sold across the EU, three member states, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, implemented unilateral embargoes on grain and other agricultural products. Ukraine is now suing all three states at the World Trade Organization. However, Romania and Czechia, which had once joined the Ukrainian grain embargo, have not announced what their next move will be.
There are some indications the government is mulling a one-month import ban after Romanian farmers requested the government restart its ban. However, according to press reports, the Kyiv government has agreed that Romania can allow for grain to be imported only with a permit, which could help stem the flow of grain. Under this agreement, as long as there is no such authorization mechanism, there will be no Ukrainian grain imports to Romania.
Based on the bilateral agreement, the grain products imported from Ukraine with an export license must be used exclusively for animal feed or raw materials for the production of finished products, the Krónika quoted a report from government sources.