The country accounts for nearly a third of the bloc’s total imports of nitrogen
EU reliance on imports of Russian fertilizers is increasing, Euractive reported earlier this week, citing Svein Tore Holsether, CEO of Yara International, a Norwegian chemical producer.
The region has been effectively replacing energy reliance with a new one – on fertilizers, the top executive said, stressing that there is no point in being “naive about what might happen next.” Holsether has also warned of possible “turmoil” in the entire sector.
Total nitrogen imports into the EU increased by 34% in the 2022-23 fertilizers marketing campaign (July-June) versus the previous period, the media cited by Eurostat statistics that also show that Russia accounted for around a third of the total.
Urea imports surged 53%, nearly doubling the volumes scored in 2020-2021, with 40% of international purchases coming from Russia. The trend has reportedly slowed during the current season, but Russian urea still accounts for nearly a third of the bloc’s total imports.
“Europe has been able to reduce the energy dependency on Russia in a really short period of time, but it has also come at a cost, both for households and industries, which have been huge,” Holsether said, raising concerns that the region could “sleepwalk into repeating the exact same thing on fertilizer” as it did on energy.
He also said that by substituting European fertilizers with those from Russia or other parts of the world, the EU gets products with a much higher carbon footprint, thus worsening the environmental impact.
The Latvian delegation to the European Council has reportedly requested a debate on “sanctions against imported Russian agricultural products” at the next EU farm ministers meeting, which is scheduled on January 23.
According to Eurostat, Russian supplies of nitrogenous fertilizers to EU member states saw a year-on-year increase by 7.6% to 1.8 million tons from January through September 2023. In September alone, those exports surged increased by 10% to 297,200 tons.
Imports of Russian nitrogen fertilizers by Germany more than tripled over the first nine months of last year to 426,300 tons, while purchases by Poland almost doubled to 257,700 tons. France raised imports by 18.1% to 362,400, and the Netherlands – by 17.7% to 163,100 tons. The four nations accounted for two-thirds of nitrogen fertilizer exports to the EU, including Germany – almost a quarter (23.9%).
So far, the bloc hasn’t imposed any restrictions on supplies of nitrogen fertilizers from Russia. The only measure that directly affected the sector was the EU import quotas for potassium chloride and complex fertilizers containing potassium that were effective from July 10, 2022, to July 9, 2023.
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