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Black Sea Port Export Talks “Show Progress”

William Mauldin, Jared Malsin and Evan Gershkovich reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “An effort to ship grain stranded by the Russia-Ukraine war showed progress Wednesday, as a top Russian official blessed Turkey’s role in removing mines from the Black Sea and a top U.S. official said Washington was working to keep sanctions from blocking Russia’s exports.

“United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has been leading discussions to find a way to ship grain and sunflower oil that has been blockaded in Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea—and to get Russian grain and fertilizer to world markets.

“Few see any easy solution given the war between Russia and Ukraine, but U.N. officials are seeking a pathway to help slow rising global food prices and head off a possible humanitarian crisis because of food shortage.”

Wall Street Journal (Page A8- June 2, 2022).

The Journal article noted that, “If the framework is successful, Turkey would play a role in mine removal and ensuring that Russian navy ships would allow the safe passage of freighters out of Ukraine, diplomats say. Mr. Guterres is also asking Washington to take steps to prevent Russia’s grain and fertilizers from getting caught up in its sanctions regime.

“Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is set to meet his Turkish counterpart next week, said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan made progress on the grain-shipment issue on Monday.”

Today’s Journal article added that, “U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said about 85 ships at Odessa’s seaport full of grain can’t move because of Russia’s effective blockade, with 20 to 25 million tons of grain nearby in silos.”

“Ukraine Farms to Face Overflowing Silos Even as Harvest Shrinks,” by Megan Durisin. Bloomberg News (April 26, 2022).

Also in today’s Wall Street Journal, Matthew Luxmoore reported that, “Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal accused Russia of deliberately orchestrating a global food crisis as he denounced its blockage of Ukrainian sea ports and called for a United Nations escort of Black Sea commercial vessels carrying grain for export.

“‘If we will not find a solution for this challenge, then the world will have problems and food crises in many countries’ this year and in the future, Mr. Shmyhal said in an interview in Kyiv this week.”

Luxmoore indicated that, “There appear to be few good options for solving the crisis in the near term. Most ports in European Union countries near Ukraine don’t have the capacity to handle grain shipments of the size Ukraine has been handling, Mr. Shmyhal said.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg writer Kim Chipman reported yesterday that, “Wheat and corn tumbled a second straight day as traders consider the global outlook for grain availability and appetite for US crops.

“Benchmark wheat fell as much as 5.5% and corn touched the lowest price in more than two months amid optimism Ukraine may soon be able to resume exports from the Black Sea. Forecasts for better US farming weather and sluggish world demand for America’s grains are also weighing on futures.”

“Grains Slide With Easing Supply Worries and Sluggish US Demand,” by Kim Chipman. Bloomberg News (June 1, 2022).

The Bloomberg article added that, “Even with Russia’s attack on Ukraine disrupting trade routes, the US has seen dramatic declines in export sales of wheat as the futures soared to an all-time high following the invasion. US corn sales recently hit a marketing-year low. A new deal paving the way for Brazil and China to boost corn trading between the two nations is further dimming the outlook for US demand.”

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the social media manager for the farmdoc project at the University of Illinois. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily FarmPolicy.com News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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