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Debunking claims of grain imports from Ukraine affecting Serbian farmers

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Recent discussions in the media have reignited debates regarding the potential influence of grain imports from Ukraine on the prices of domestic wheat and corn in Serbia.

Several agricultural associations, including “Pancevo Farmers,” “Agrarian Forum,” and “Civil Disobedience,” have raised concerns about the uncertainty surrounding this year’s spring sowing due to significant losses among farmers. They attribute these challenges primarily to what they perceive as unfair market practices and excessive grain imports. Specifically, they point to the prevalence of Ukrainian grains in imports, noting that while neighboring countries like Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary have imposed bans, Serbia has not, resulting in the sale of Ukrainian grains at lower prices.

However, Sunčica Savović, the director of “Žita Srbije” (Grains of Serbia), vehemently refuted these claims, dismissing them as baseless and asserting that Serbia has not imported any grains from Ukraine.

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Savović clarified that Serbian agricultural producers are safeguarded from wheat imports from Ukraine by an import duty of up to 30% for both wheat and corn. This significant tariff imposition, she emphasized, renders the import of Ukrainian grains economically unfeasible, as it would entail paying 30% more than the original cost. She further dispelled notions of Ukrainian goods entering Serbia via European Union countries, highlighting the substantial import duties of 24% for corn and 18% for wheat from EU nations.

Moreover, Savović debunked claims of widespread grain imports by revealing official customs data for the calendar year 2023. She pointed out that over 85% of the imported corn and wheat consisted exclusively of seed products, which have distinct tariff codes from commercial goods. Subtracting seed products from the imported quantities, Savović revealed minimal imports of approximately 1,500 tons of corn and 380 tons of wheat throughout the entire previous year. Given that Serbia annually produces over three million tons of wheat and more than 6.5 million tons of corn on average, these import quantities are inconsequential.

Savović stressed the importance of responsible public discourse and accountability, urging consequences for spreading false information.

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