Russia agrees to extend Black Sea grain deal

Russia has said it will extend the Black Sea grain deal, allowing ships carrying wheat and other essential food ingredients to continue leaving Ukrainian ports.

However, the deal, the Black Sea Grain Initiative, has only been extended for 60 days, Moscow said. Ukraine is understood to be seeking a four-month extension of the current deal, which expires on Saturday (March 18).

Russian state-owned news agency TASS announced the automatic renewal of the agreement today (March 14), but its report, citing Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, suggested that the updated agreement is part of a package linked to “the removal of all sanctions, direct and indirect, on the supply of Russian agricultural products”. products to international markets.

The removal of restrictions on Russian agricultural exports is underway, albeit slowly, Grushko said.

“Our fertilizers, which we are ready to deliver to the poorest countries for free, still remain in the ports of a large number of countries, with artificial barriers created,” he said. TASS.

News agency Reuters He quoted unnamed Turkish officials as saying talks on the renewed agreement are ongoing and reported that Ukraine had indicated it was still planning a 120-day extension. Turkey, together with the United Nations, negotiated the original agreement that was signed last July,

Black Sea ports faced a blockade from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February until that deal was signed.

Before that, Ukraine had been one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn, rapeseed, sunflower seeds and sunflower oil, with more than 90% of those exports passing through the Black Sea ports of Odessa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi.

Ukraine’s biggest markets for wheat and maize exports were Egypt, Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Morocco, and the blockade of its ships fueled fears of shortages of essential foods in developing countries. Before the invasion, six West African countries imported between 30 and 50 percent of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The deal negotiated last summer was extended in November despite Vladimir Putin threatening to tear up the deal, arguing that the supplies were mainly going to the developed world rather than poorer countries where they are most needed.

That month, it was revealed that Ukraine would export at least one million tons less grain in November than in October despite the extension of the Black Sea trade deal.

Read Just Food’s analysis: Ukraine invasion a year later: Food safety concerns persist

For more information on Just Food’s coverage of how the conflict is affecting the food industry, visit our dedicated microsite.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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