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No Black Sea Ship Inspections Sunday, Monday; China’s Foreign Minister Meets U.S. Ambassador

Reuters writer Michelle Nichols reported yesterday that, “The United Nations said no ships were inspected on Sunday or Monday under a deal allowing the safe Black Sea export of Ukraine grain, which Moscow has threatened to quit on May 18 over obstacles to its own grain and fertilizer exports.”

‘The JCC [Joint Coordination Centre] conducted no inspections yesterday and today,’ the U.N. said on Monday, adding that the U.N. and Turkey were ‘working closely with all sides with the aim to facilitate movements and inspections of inbound and outbound vessels … while discussions for the future of the Initiative continue.’

Also yesterday, Ukraine’s reconstruction ministry said that Russia had effectively stopped the Black sea grain deal by refusing to register incoming vessels.

And Bloomberg News reported yesterday that, “Russia refused to register ships bound for Ukrainian ports to pick up grain or to conduct inspections of those ships on Monday, Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry said on Facebook.

“‘Russia’s destructive acts made it impossible to draw up inspection plan,’ the ministry said. As of Monday, 90 vessels are awaiting inspection in Turkish territorial waters, of which 62 are to be loaded.

“According to the ministry, permanent interruption of the grain corridor’s operation is hurting Ukraine’s agricultural exports. Less than 3 million tons of products were exported through the corridor in April — one of the lowest indicator since the grain deal was signed.”

Also with respect to Ukraine, Karen DeYoung reported in today’s Washington Post that, “Britain, which has prided itself on being ahead of its Western allies in introducing new weapons systems to Ukraine, now appears poised to send Kyiv the long-range missiles the Biden administration has long denied it.”

And John Bacon reported in today’s USA TODAY that, “A Russian air assault on Kyiv was swatted aside Monday when the Ukraine military shot down all 35 Iranian-made drones, but their fiery, shattered remnants injured residents and damaged vehicles, the Ukraine Air Force said.”

USA TODAY (Page 5A – May 9, 2023).

Meanwhile, Reuters writer Naveen Thukral reported today that, “Chicago soybean and corn futures lost ground on Tuesday with rapidly progressing U.S. planting boosting expectations of bumper production and weighing on prices.

“Wheat slid for a second session, although losses were limited by the poor condition of the U.S. winter crop and an uncertainty over Ukraine’s safe shipping agreement for grain exports that is set to expire on May 18.”

The Reuters article noted that, “Good-to-excellent ratings for the U.S. winter wheat crop rose 1 percentage point to 29% in the week ended May 7, the USDA said in its weekly Crop Progress and Conditions Report. That matched 2022 as the lowest good-to-excellent rating for this time of year since 1996.”

“Farmers had planted 49% of their corn and 35% of their intended soybean acreage, the agency said.”

And Dow Jones writer Kirk Maltais reported yesterday that, “A storm forecast to move through the Southern Plains is expected to bring much-needed rain to wheat crops that sorely need it.”

In a separate Dow Jones article yesterday, Maltais indicated that, “Inspections of U.S. grain exports have pulled back this week, hitting the brakes on an improved pace of shipments reported last week by the Department of Agriculture.

“In its latest grain export inspections report for the week ended May 4, the USDA said corn export inspections totaled 963,351 metric tons, which is down from 1.52 million tons inspected last week. Meanwhile, soybean inspections totaled 394,755 tons and wheat inspections totaled 209,138 tons, both down from the previous week.”

U.S. Agricultural Exports, year-to-date and current months, by volume. U.S. Agricultural Trade Data Update- USDA, Economic Research Service (May 8, 2023).

Also yesterday, Reuters writers Ningwei Qin and Dominique Patton reported that, “China’s imports of soybeans fell 10% in April compared to a year ago, customs data showed on Tuesday, after a stricter clearance process at customs delayed processing of cargoes.

“The world’s top soybean buyer brought in 7.26 million tonnes of the oilseed last month, significantly less than the 9 million tonnes expected by traders, based on vessel line-ups.”

More broadly regarding China, New York Times writer David Pierson reported yesterday that, “China’s foreign minister, Qin Gang, met with the American ambassador to China in Beijing on Monday in a possible hint at a thaw in relations between the two powers after months of growing tension.

“Mr. Qin told the ambassador, Nicholas Burns, that a ‘top priority’ was to stabilize relations, ‘avoid a downward spiral, and prevent accidents between China and the United States,’ according to China’s official readout of the meeting.”

Also yesterday, Wall Street Journal writer Brian Spegele reported that, “In some ways, the fact that the meeting between the foreign minister and the U.S. ambassador took place at all can be viewed as a sign of progress given such limited communication between the countries recently. While Mr. Burns has met Mr. Qin previously, this was their first meeting since Mr. Qin became China’s foreign minister. In the Chinese readout, Mr. Qin said stabilizing U.S.-China ties was an urgent task to prevent accidents between the countries, without elaborating.”

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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