Minister of Agriculture István Nagy sent a letter to the European Commission in an appeal to minimise the negative impacts of the Covid-19 epidemic on the poultry sector and to find a solution to the current situation which has arisen therefrom. The Minister asked European Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan to conduct an urgent review regarding the conditions that are attached to products imported from third countries.

The Minister said Hungary, similar to other EU Member States, is struggling to give the right answers to the global health care and economic crisis. The temporary restrictions adopted in tourism, catering and the hospitality industry (HORECA) with a view to containing the epidemic have required the rapid reorganisation of agricultural sales, from the services industry to retail directly serving consumers. Demand for high-added-value and seasonal products has shifted towards less perishable foodstuffs that can be kept for longer. This has resulted in a temporary loss of consumption in one of the largest absorption markets of agriculture, the so-called HORECA sector. Parallel with a fall in demand on the European market, significant amounts of imported products are arriving in the EU’s internal market from third countries, resulting in increased accumulated stocks and an excess supply in some sectors. This excess supply has a negative impact in particular on the poultry product chain, and its consequences reach as far as the producers themselves, thereby jeopardising the very foundations of the production of the poultry sector. In the interest of preventing long-term losses in the poultry sector, in addition to immediate market measures, further swift action is required. This, however, necessitates an urgent review by the Commission of the conditions that are attached to imports originating from third countries, the Minister stressed.

The temporary adjustment of the quantity of imports originating from third countries could help to achieve a state of balance on the internal market and the creation of equal competitive conditions for internal production. Such temporary measures could result in immediate relief on the poultry market, thereby contributing to the enhancement of the flexibility of internal production and providing access for domestic and European consumers to safe products.