Brussels will continue to support Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia in carrying out pro-European reforms, according to a statement issued on Friday following the EU summit.
“The European Union will continue to work closely with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia and support their reform efforts on their European path,” it said.
The statement says that the meeting also decided that Brussels will support Moldova in addressing the challenges it faces due to the events in Ukraine.
Last March, Georgia applied for EU membership, but has not yet been granted candidate status.
In February 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed Ukraine’s application for EU membership. In June of the same year, the EU Council granted Ukraine candidate status.
In June 2022, Moldova was also granted candidate status.
Greek Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Christos Staikouras has initiated the launch of a railway connection between Greece, Bulgaria, Moldova and Romania to connect with Ukraine, Noi.md reports.
According to the report, the Greek minister proposed to launch the train during a summit in Varna (Bulgaria) on October 9 to diversify trade ties between Mediterranean ports and Ukraine.
The Greek government proposes that trains should run to the Greek ports of Alexandroupolis and Thessaloniki from the ports of Ruse in Bulgaria and Constanta in Romania, and then connections could be established with Moldova and Ukraine. This project can become an alternative option in trade relations between the two countries, strengthening transport links and international freight transportation, Greece believes.
The Greek Minister of Transport sent a letter of intent to European Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean, Bulgarian Minister of Finance Assen Vasilev, Bulgarian Minister of Transport and Communications Georgi Gvozdeykov, and Romanian Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Sorin Grindian.
As reported, the European Union is exploring alternative routes for Ukrainian grain through Italy and Greece.
The Ministry of Economic Development and Digitalization of Moldova has announced that Ukraine will cancel the anti-dumping duty on imports of Moldovan cement by the end of 2023, InfoMarket reports.
It is noted that the Ukrainian side announced such a possibility following constructive discussions held during a meeting of the co-chairs of the Moldovan-Ukrainian intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation held in Odesa, which was also attended by State Secretary of the Ministry of Economic Development and Digitalization Vadim Humene.
One of the main topics discussed at the meeting was Ukraine’s imposition of an anti-dumping duty on cement imports from Moldova, which affects the operations of cement production companies in Moldova and has negative consequences for bilateral trade between the countries.
In this regard, Vadim Ghumene insisted on a request to cancel the anti-dumping duty on imports of cement of Moldovan origin to Ukraine in the near future in order to avoid Moldova initiating trade defense processes in sectors affected by massive imports from Ukraine.
According to the Moldovan side, Ukraine has expressed its readiness to cancel the anti-dumping duty on imports of cement from Moldova by the end of 2023. In addition, the parties expressed their openness and readiness to help remove barriers to trade, in particular, to simplify border controls to optimize the flow of goods, review environmental duties and ensure transparent, uniform application of legislation by both countries.
As reported, in 2019, the Interdepartmental Commission on International Trade (hereinafter – the ICIT) applied anti-dumping duties on imports of cement to Ukraine at the level of 57.03% for cement from the Republic of Belarus; 94.46% for cement from the Republic of Moldova; 114.95% for cement from the Russian Federation. The application of such high duty rates indicated the existence of a violation of competition by these three countries and the need to protect Ukrainian producers. The measures were imposed for a period of five years and are valid until June 2024. They may be extended if the national producer initiates a review procedure, during which the Ministry of Economy and the ICIT will determine whether it is expedient or inexpedient to extend them.
In the summer of 2023, the ICIT terminated the interim review of anti-dumping measures against imports of cement produced by Rybnytsia Cement Plant originating in the Republic of Moldova, arguing that the extension of the final anti-dumping measures against imports of cement originating in Russia, Belarus and Moldova, in particular, produced by Rybnytsia Cement Plant, is necessary to level the playing field.
In the first half of 2023, Ukraine ranked second among Moldova’s main trading partners, accounting for about 14.6% of Moldova’s total trade. In January-June 2023, the trade turnover between Moldova and Ukraine amounted to approximately $929.5 million. At the same time, exports of Moldovan products to the Ukrainian market increased by 44% to $359.3 million, and imports of Ukrainian products increased by 42.6% to $570.2 million.
The Romanian company Vestmoldtransgaz (previously owned by the Moldovan government) has been granted a five-year lease to manage Moldova’s gas transportation system.
According to the press service of the Ministry of Energy of Moldova, the relevant lease agreement was signed with Moldovatransgaz, a subsidiary of Moldovagaz.
Under the terms of the contract, Vestmoldtransgaz will also receive the existing maintenance contracts.
The transfer process is conditioned by Moldova’s obligations under the EU’s Third Energy Package, which provides for the unbundling of supply, transportation and distribution in the gas market.
In June 2023, Moldovagaz announced that it was not in time to complete the certification process and the separation of Moldovatransgaz from the parent company. In July, the government approved a draft law that prescribes the procedure for revoking the license of the GTS operator and transferring its assets to another company. The bill was approved in the first reading by the Moldovan parliament.
“Moldovagaz was established in 1999. Gazprom owns 50% of the company’s shares, the Moldovan government 35.33%, and the Transnistrian Property Management Committee 13.44%.
“Vestmoldtransgaz operates the Iaşi-Ungheni-Chisinau gas pipeline between Romania and Moldova. The company was established in 2014 and sold to Eurotransgaz (a subsidiary of the Romanian state-owned Transgaz) in 2018. The shareholders are currently Transgaz (75%) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) (25%).
Moldova has been offering assistance with the transit of Ukrainian grain since the beginning of the war, and now it is trying to find a solution that will suit Moldovan farmers and help Kiev, Moldovan President Maia Sandu has said.
Speaking about the situation with Ukrainian grain, Sandu called it a “complicated topic.”
“We are trying to find a solution. There are discussions with Ukraine, Romania and the European Commission to see how we can harmonize the interests of Moldovan farmers, but also ensure this transit of grain from Ukraine. We have an obligation to help Ukraine, which today provides for our peace,” she told RFI.
According to her information, Moldova will try to find the best solution for both sides. One of them is rapid investment in transportation and port infrastructure to increase capacity for this period.
“We want to increase our exports, we want to develop our infrastructure, and we can do it, in particular with the resources of the European Union,” she explained.
Sandu spoke about the problem of farmers in Moldova who, even before the war in Ukraine, did not have enough capacity to export.
“We have to state that the railroad and port infrastructure in Moldova is underdeveloped. Now, when these large volumes are coming from Ukraine, the situation has become more complicated,” Sandu said.
As reported, Moldova intends to modernize the railway infrastructure and railway bed in order to increase exports of Ukrainian agricultural goods, for which it cooperates with Romania, Ukraine and donor organizations.
The European Union has fully exempted imports of agricultural products from Moldova from duties and quotas, extending and expanding the current temporary preferential treatment.
“The extension and expansion of the (preferential) measures aims to further expand the existing trade flows from Moldova to the EU, and this will support the Moldovan economy,” said Hector Gomez Hernandez – Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Spain, which holds the presidency of the Council of the EU until the end of the year.
He emphasized that Thursday’s EU Council decision is particularly important given the ongoing military actions in Ukraine, as well as the fact that Moldova was granted EU candidate status a year ago.
Trade between the EU and Moldova is mostly liberalized under the 2014 Association Agreement. Duties were imposed on imports of only seven products to the EU: plums, table grapes, apples, tomatoes, garlic, cherries and grape juice. Introduced a year ago and valid until July 24, the preferential regime provides duty-free quotas for these products. The current decision suspends all remaining tariff rate quotas (TRQs) for one year.
The preferential treatment of imports from Moldova of the said products will entail a loss of EU customs revenues, but it will amount to about 0.3 million euros per year, so its impact on the Union budget will be “very limited,” the press release said.
The measures are expected to help Moldova further reorient its exports to the EU. Overall, its volume is set to increase from €1.8 billion in 2021 to €2.6 billion in 2022.