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“Mixed Rhetoric” Surrounds Renewal of Black Sea Grain Deal

Dow Jones writer Will Horner reported yesterday that, “The future of the Black Sea grains deal is shaping up to be agricultural markets’ key concern this week, while weather for South American farmers and macroeconomic developments such as economic data and central bank meetings will also be in focus.

The grain deal, which saw Russia and Ukraine agree to allow shipments of grain to leave Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, was hailed as a breakthrough for easing soaring grain prices. But grains markets have been unable to shake concerns that one side could walk away from the deal.

“The United Nations–which brokered the deal–and Ukraine are hoping to renew it beyond a November 19 deadline, but Russia has signaled it isn’t happy about its implementation. Ukraine has accused Russia of holding back shipments.”

Reuters writer Karl Plume reported yesterday that, “Grain traders are closely watching the pace of crop exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports ahead of the expiration next month of a wartime shipping corridor deal.”

And Dow Jones writer Kirk Maltais reported yesterday that,

Rhetoric about the deal has been mixed, leading to confusion about whether it will be renewed next month.

Also yesterday, Reuters writer Jonathan Spicer reported that, “A U.N spokesperson said on Monday that ‘urgent’ steps are needed to relieve a backlog of more than 150 ships involved in a deal which allows Ukraine to export grain from ports in the Black Sea.”

The article noted that, “Vessels carrying grains and other foodstuffs to and from Ukrainian ports must be inspected by teams organised by the four-party Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) at anchorages in Turkey.

“‘There are currently over 150 vessels waiting around Istanbul to move and these delays have the potential to cause disruptions to the supply chain and port operations,’ said Ismini Palla, U.N. spokesperson for the Black Sea Grain Initiative.”

“Ukraine Crop Deal Fears Boost Food Costs and Slow Shipments,” by Megan Durisin. Bloomberg News (October 22, 2022).

And Reuters writer Pavel Polityuk reported yesterday that, “Ukraine said on Monday that Russian inspections that have been creating ‘significant’ delays for the export of Ukrainian food products via the Black Sea were ‘politically motivated’ and a cause for concern.

“‘We have reason to believe delays in Russia’s inspections of the grain initiative’s vessels are politically motivated,’ the foreign ministry said in a statement.”

Also, a separate Reuters News article from yesterday reported that, “Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Moscow has asked the United Nations for data on the destination and end-consumers for Ukrainian grain exports, saying that ‘corrections’ to a deal to unblock shipments from Black Sea ports would depend on this information.

“Speaking at a press briefing broadcast on state television, Lavrov said: ‘This is not just curiosity. The correction or redirection of further actions to implement the grain deal depend on it.'”

“Ukraine Crop-Deal Talks May Hinge on Fertilizers and Extra Port,” by Selcan Hacaoglu and Megan Durisin. Bloomberg News (October 14, 2022).

Meanwhile, Reuters writer Pavel Polityuk reported yesterday that, “Ukraine’s grain exports are down 33.4% year on year in the 2022/23 season so far at almost 12 million tonnes, but the pace of shipments is increasing gradually, agriculture ministry data showed on Tuesday.”

The article added that, “The government has said that Ukraine could harvest between 50 million and 52 million tonnes of grain this year, down from a record 86 million tonnes in 2021, because of the loss of land to Russian forces and lower yields.”

In an article today, Reuters’ Polityuk reported that, “Ukraine is keeping its forecast of the winter wheat sowing area for the 2023 harvest unchanged at 3.8 million hectares despite a delay caused by unfavourable weather, deputy agriculture minister Taras Vysotskiy told Reuters on Tuesday.

“Ukraine sowed more than 6 million hectares of winter wheat for the 2022 harvest, but a large area has been occupied by Russian forces since the invasion in February and only 4.6 million hectares were harvested.

“The ministry said farmers had sown 3.1 million hectares of winter wheat as of Oct. 25, or 79% of the expected area. It said around 500,000 hectares of other winter grains had also been sown.”

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily 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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