Business news from Ukraine

Bulgaria and Romania join Schengen area

Starting March 31, Bulgaria and Romania will become members of the Schengen area: Schengen rules will be applied in both member states, including the issuance of Schengen visas, and control at internal air and sea borders will be abolished.
This was reported by the press service of the European Commission on Saturday.
“The Commission strongly welcomes this achievement, which follows the historic Council decision of December 2023. The accession of these two Member States to the Schengen area will make the common area more attractive by significantly expanding the world’s largest common area without internal border controls,” the press release says.
Commenting on the event, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said: “Tomorrow marks an important day: Bulgaria and Romania join the Schengen family. I welcome the abolition of internal air and sea border checks. This is a great success for both countries. And a historic moment for the Schengen area – the largest free movement area in the world. Together we are building a stronger and more united Europe for all our citizens.”

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Ukraine increased exports of semi-finished steel products by 3.4 times, with Bulgaria as main market

In January-February this year, Ukraine increased exports of carbon steel semi-finished products in physical terms by 3.38 times compared to the same period last year, to 364.162 thousand tons.

According to statistics released by the State Customs Service on Wednesday, exports of carbon steel semi-finished products increased 3.1 times in monetary terms to $175.088 million.

The main exports were to Bulgaria (33.46% of supplies in monetary terms), Poland (17.70%) and the Dominican Republic (8.21%).

As reported, in 2023, Ukraine decreased exports of carbon steel semi-finished products in physical terms by 36.7% compared to 2022, to 1 million 203.454 thousand tons, while exports in monetary terms decreased by 48.9% to $608.516 million. The main exports were made to Bulgaria (36.66% of supplies in monetary terms), Poland (23.01%), and Italy (9.60%).

In 2022, Ukraine decreased exports of carbon steel semi-finished products by 72% year-on-year to 1 million 899.729 thousand tons in physical terms and by 70.9% to $1 billion 191.279 million in monetary terms. The main exports were to Bulgaria (26.55% of supplies in monetary terms), Poland (13.97%) and Italy (12.13%).

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Ukraine simplifies rules for sunflower exports to Bulgaria

The Cabinet of Ministers has simplified the conditions for exporting sunflower seeds to Bulgaria and established an automatic licensing regime instead of a non-automatic one.

According to the official website of the government, the decision was made at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers on Friday.

“Recently, the Republic of Bulgaria has agreed to liberalize the export licensing regime for one of these agricultural commodities, namely sunflower seeds. From now on, obtaining licenses to export sunflower seeds to Bulgaria will not require the approval of the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and, accordingly, separate consultations with this country,” the press service of the Cabinet of Ministers quoted Taras Kachka, Deputy Minister of Economy of Ukraine – Trade Representative, as saying.

According to him, this should simplify the export of relevant Ukrainian products.

Earlier, in order to unblock Ukrainian exports of agricultural products through neighboring EU countries, the government introduced verification and approval (licensing – IF-U) of wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower exports to Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland.

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Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria to sign agreement to counter mine threat in Black Sea

Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria will sign a joint agreement in January 2024 to counter the mine threat in the Black Sea, Turkish National Defense Minister Yashar Güler said, TRTHaber reported on Saturday, December 16.

“Within the framework of the Trilateral Initiative, launched under the leadership of our country against the mine threat in the Black Sea, on November 22-23, we held the third round of the meeting of the Task Force on Mine Action in the Black Sea, hosted by our ministry. We are also planning to hold a signing ceremony in Istanbul on January 11, 2024, with the participation of the defense ministers of the three countries,” said Yasar Güler.

The minister emphasized that Turkey responsibly and impartially implements the Montreux Straits Convention, which ensures balance in the Black Sea, and is determined to continue to do so.

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Bulgaria approves military aid package for Ukraine

Bulgaria’s parliament has overridden the presidential veto on an agreement to supply Ukraine with used armored personnel carriers (APCs), ratified earlier by parliament, The Sofia Globe reports.

“The Bulgarian National Assembly voted on December 8 to override President Rumen Radev’s veto of the agreement between the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense on Bulgaria’s supply of used APCs to Ukraine, ratified by parliament last month,” the newspaper said.

The motion to override the veto was passed with 161 votes in favor and 55 against.

The agreement stipulates that Bulgaria will supply APCs and existing weapons, as well as spare parts. The vehicles were purchased in the 1980s and have been mothballed for several decades.

In addition, on December 8, the Bulgarian National Assembly voted overwhelmingly (145 in favor, 55 against) to provide additional military assistance to Ukraine, to allow the use of Bulgarian airspace for training Ukrainian F-16 pilots, and to allow a limited number of Ukrainian military personnel to transit or stay in Bulgaria for training.

Additional military assistance would include Bulgaria providing Ukraine with malfunctioning, obsolete, and surplus air defense missiles. The military assistance also includes allowing Ukrainian infantry or mechanized companies of up to 160 personnel per year to transit or stay in Bulgaria for training.


Bulgaria allows licensed imports of Ukrainian sunflower, rapeseed, corn and wheat

Bulgaria has authorized licensed imports of Ukrainian sunflower, rapeseed, corn and wheat, according to the website of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of Bulgaria.

According to the report, during an online meeting on Friday, the Ministers of Agriculture of Bulgaria and Ukraine Kirill Vatev and Nikolay Solsky agreed to implement a licensed export regime for sunflower, rapeseed, corn and wheat seeds and agreed on the details of its application.

“The Ministry of Agriculture and Food has kept its promise to limit imports of these agricultural products as much as possible until November 30, according to the Memorandum signed between the government and the Initiative Committee of Protesting Farmers,” the Bulgarian ministry quoted Minister Vatev as saying.

He emphasized that after this period, the two countries will “strictly monitor that there are no market distortions and that the interests of Bulgarian producers, processors and consumers are not undermined.”

Imports and data exchange between the two countries will continue, the Bulgarian ministry emphasized.

As reported, in November 2023, the Minister of Agrarian Policy of Ukraine Solsky expressed the opinion that Bulgaria, which refrained from imposing a unilateral ban after September 15, could become the first frontline country to lift the ban on Ukrainian agricultural products.

In his opinion, the crop that Bulgaria will be ready to import from Ukraine will be sunflower. In Bulgaria, in the fall of 2023, a compromise was reached between farmers and processors to open the market for imports of Ukrainian sunflower from December 1. By this time, local sunflower oil producers, according to the Bulgarian government, will have to buy back the sunflower seeds produced by farmers, and they will need an additional 1.5 million tons of raw materials.

Earlier, Stepan Kapshuk, head of the industry association Ukroliyaprom, told Interfax-Ukraine that Bulgaria has 16 oil extraction plants that have significantly increased production in the 2022 season and intend to develop sunflower oil exports using sunflower seeds imported from Ukraine.

On September 15, the European Commission announced that it would not extend the restrictions on imports of agricultural products from Ukraine to five neighboring EU countries (Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia) under certain conditions that will help avoid a new sharp increase in supplies.

The restrictions were introduced on May 2, 2023, and applied to imports of wheat, rapeseed, sunflower, and corn. These five Eastern European EU member states argued that Ukrainian agricultural products, when imported duty-free into the EU, were being deposited in their countries and were harming their local agricultural sectors.

After the restrictions were lifted, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia imposed unilateral bans. Poland expanded its list of banned products to include rapeseed cake and meal, as well as corn bran, wheat flour, and derivatives. Hungary extended the list to 24 commodity items.

Ukraine filed a lawsuit with the WTO, accusing Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia of discriminatory treatment of its agricultural products.

Ukraine is currently negotiating a mechanism for licensing exports of Ukrainian agricultural products with mandatory verification in each of the five countries.

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