The European Union agreed on Thursday to suspend restrictions on imports from Ukraine for a further year after warding off an import ban on grain imposed by some EU nations.

The Council of the EU, the grouping of EU governments, said in a tweet that EU ministers responsible for trade had agreed to the extension at a meeting on Thursday. The European Union lifted tariffs and other restrictions for an initial 12 months in June 2022.

The suspension of all duties has led to complaints from farming groups, culminating in Poland and Hungary banning some Ukraine grain imports in April. The countries became transit routes for Ukrainian grain that could not be exported through its Black Sea ports.

Even before Russia's invasion in February last year, Ukraine had been benefiting from the elimination of the vast majority of EU tariffs, in some cases with transition periods, under the EU-Ukraine free trade agreement applied since 2016.

However, up until 2022, the EU had retained minimum prices for fruit and vegetables and tariffs and quotas on other sensitive farm products, such as meat, dairy, sugar and some cereals.

Five neighbouring countries - Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia - will bar domestic sales of certain grains from Ukraine, while allowing their transit for export elsewhere.

The European Parliament has already backed the tariff suspension proposal. (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Sharon Singleton)