Hungary bans the import of agricultural products from Ukraine

Similarly to Poland, Hungary issued a ban on Ukrainian agriculture products this week.

Aerial view of trucks parked in a parking lot.
Beeld: ©Marcin Jozwiak

On Saturday, April 15, Hungarian Minister for Agriculture István Nagy has announced on his official Facebook page that "Hungary would ban the import of agriculture products from Ukraine."

Shortly after, on Saturday evening, the Ministry issued a statement on its website. According to the statement, "due to a lack of effective EU measures, similarly to Poland,  Hungary will temporarily prohibit the import of grain, oilseeds, and several other agricultural products originating from or transiting through Ukraine."

The import ban was introduced with Governmental Decree 130/2023. (IV. 18.) in a late-night publication of the National Gazette, dated to Tuesday, April 18, to enter into force on Wednesday.

The import ban will be temporary according to the Ministry and the text of the governmental decree, and will be in effect until June 30, 2023. The ministry’s announcement earlier stated that this time window "might be enough time for meaningful and long-lasting EU measures to be taken, including the re-evaluation of the tariff-free status of Ukrainian goods and the functioning of solidarity corridors."

Previous developments

The decree has an unusually long introduction It states that “currently, a significant portion of the products imported from Ukraine are not further transported to third countries, but are sold at dumping prices in the member states. Due to the lack of obligation to comply with the strict production rules required by EU law, Ukrainian products have an unbeatable competitive advantage, which causes serious disturbances in the internal markets of member states. The continuation of current market processes would cause such serious damage to Hungarian agriculture that extraordinary measures must be taken to prevent them.”

Moreover, the government, possibly in response to the statement criticizing the import ban by the European Commission, noted that "the European Commission's primary duty established by EU law is to represent the interests of member states to third countries to the furthest extent possible."

The complete list of banned products is the following:

  • Bovine meat (beef), fresh, chilled, or frozen
  • Pork meat, fresh, chilled, or frozen
  • Lamb or goat meat, fresh, chilled, or frozen
  • Poultry meat, offal, and giblets suitable for human consumption, fresh, chilled, or frozen
  • Bird eggs in the shell, fresh, preserved, or cooked
  • Natural honey
  • Vegetables (raw, steam cooked, or boiled in water), frozen
  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Maize (corn)
  • Millet, sorghum, and canary seeds; other cereals
  • Wheat flour or wheatmeal
  • Cereal flour (excluding wheat or wheatmeal)
  • Processed cereal grains, whole, flattened, or ground into flakes
  • Rapeseed or colza seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sunflower, safflower, and cottonseed oil and their fractions, refined but not chemically modified
  • Rapeseed and mustard oil and their fractions, refined but not chemically modified
  • Cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose in solid form
  • Bread, pastry, cakes, biscuits, and other bakers' wares containing cocoa; communion wafers
  • Empty capsules for medicine, sealing wafers, rice paper, and similar products
  • Vegetables (excluding sugared) prepared or preserved without vinegar or acetic acid (excluding tomatoes and edible mushrooms), not frozen
  • Wine from fresh grapes; grape must (excluding grape juice)

The new regulation does not apply to transit shipments that pass through the territory of the country within seven days, however, these are subject to certain conditions. Products listed by the regulation, which only enter Hungary as transit cargo, must be sealed with an official seal from the tax and tariff office of the Hungarian government. Also, these shipments must be registered in Hungary’s digital cargo traffic tracking system EKAER.

The EKAER system is regulated by Act XCII of 2003 on the Rules of Taxation. Transport operations from 1 January 2015 must require an EKAER number to each individual consignments in the following transport cases:

  • Road transport to/from Hungary to/from another Member State by means of a vehicle
  • Transport of risky goods over 200 kilograms or if the value of tax exceeds HUF 250,000 (€661,4). For other goods over 500 kilograms or HUF 1 million (€2,650). A vehicle subject to EKAER if its gross weight is more than 3.5 tons.