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EU envoys agree deal on Ukraine agricultural imports, Belgium says

Wheat harvest in the Donetsk Region

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Ambassadors from European Union countries reached a deal on Wednesday to extend tariff-free food imports from Ukraine, with a "balanced approach between support for Ukraine and protection of EU agricultural markets", the Belgian EU presidency said.

The agreement will now go to the European Parliament for its approval, with the aim of a "swift agreement", the Belgian presidency said in a post on social media platform X.

The EU had reached a provisional agreement on the matter last week but France and Poland said planned restrictions did not go far enough and pushed for further curbs to prevent what they called the destabilisation of EU agricultural markets.

An EU diplomat familiar with the new deal said it was similar to last week's agreement but changed the reference period used to determine when an emergency brake imposing tariffs on some products would be applied.

The original deal stipulated that tariffs would kick in on poultry, eggs, sugar, oats, maize, groats and honey if imports exceeded the average levels of 2022 and 2023.

The new compromise expands the reference period to include the second semester of 2021, the diplomat said.

No products were added to the list of those that would be subject to the emergency brake, the diplomat added.

(Reporting by Andrew Gray and Nette Noestlinger; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Benoit Van Overstraeten)