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Unprecedented influx of Russian durum wheat into the Italian market

Question écrite de M. Fabio Massimo CASTALDO - Commission européenne

Subject: Unprecedented influx of Russian durum wheat into the Italian market

Since the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, the EU has adopted 13 sanction packages, imposing restrictive measures on an estimated total of EUR 91.2 billion worth of goods previously imported from Russia.

However, some goods still manage to enter our internal market, either by circumventing the sanctions or because these goods are not on the list of banned products.

Among these is Russian durum wheat, which is still entering the EU market, especially through Italy. According to some figures, since 2023, the import of Russian durum wheat in Italy has skyrocketed, rising by 1 164 % in comparison with the previous year1, making Russia the largest supplier of durum wheat to Italy2.

The gargantuan influx of Russian durum wheat, which is imported at very low prices, has a distortive impact on the Italian market, forcing Italian producers to reduce the sale price of their products to remain competitive.

1. Is the Commission aware of these astonishing figures?

2. Against this backdrop, what actions is the Commission planning to take to reverse this trend?

3. Will the Commission propose to the Council to add Russian durum wheat to the list of banned products?




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Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 14 mai 2024

Answer given by Mr Wojciechowski on behalf of the European Commission (15 May 2024)

In 2023, due to smaller than usual supplies from Canada, the traditional exporter of durum wheat to the EU, as well as in view of forecasts of a smaller EU harvest coupled with quality concerns, imports from other destinations, notably from Russia, but also from Türkiye, increased considerably. These imports helped to alleviate shortages on the EU durum market.

In 2024, durum wheat prices in Italy evolved similarly to those in other Member States, with a general drop observed over the last 2-3 months.

Significant Italian durum wheat imports in 2023 reflect the low domestic production for two years in a row, which was about 10% below long-term average. Thus, temporarily increased imports to Italy were justified by market reality.

On 22 March 2024, the Commission proposed to increase EU import tariffs on certain cereals, oilseeds, and derived products from Russia and Belarus (3).

The proposed measure covers imports of 4.2 million tonnes of products from Russia worth EUR 1.3 billion and includes durum wheat as well.

The proposed import tariff on durum wheat from Russia and Belarus is believed to be sufficiently prohibitive to halt imports from those countries.

In general, the proposed measure aims at preventing that Russia redirects significant volumes of grains to the EU market, which could lead to its destabilisation.

However, the transit of these products from Russia and Belarus via the EU to third countries would be unaffected as the EU remains fully committed to ensuring global food security.

It should be noted that Russia has introduced a temporary ban on exports of durum wheat from December 2023 until 31 May 2024.

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COM(2024)148 —

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