Parties agree to extend Türkiye-led grain deal for 4 months


 ISTANBUL NOV 17, 2022

Panama-flagged bulk carrier Ikaria Angel leaves the port in Chernomorsk with wheat for Ethiopia after grain exports resumed, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, Sept. 17, 2022. (Reuters Photo)

Panama-flagged bulk carrier Ikaria Angel leaves the port in Chernomorsk with wheat for Ethiopia after grain exports resumed, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Sept. 17, 2022. (Reuters Photo)

An agreement had been reached to extend the Black Sea grain initiative by 120 days, as confirmed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the United Nations, with parties stressing the importance of Türkiye’s mediator and guarantor role in enabling the grain and foodstuff to leave war-shadowed Ukraine ports.

“As a result of four-way talks hosted by Türkiye, the Black Sea Grain Corridor Agreement was extended for 120 days as of Nov. 19, 2022, in line with the decision taken between Türkiye, the United Nations, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine,” said Erdoğan on Twitter.

Erdoğan thanked U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensykyy “for their willingness to extend the agreement.”

The announcement came as Erdoğan flew home from Indonesia where he attended the G-20 summit. Speaking to reporters, Erdoğan said Ankara’s role of mediation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, from prisoner exchange to the grain deal, was appreciated by the international community.

The export of more than 11 million tons of grains in the last four months has shown the deal’s importance for global food security, Erdoğan also said.

Amid soaring food prices, Türkiye has spoken with Russia about sending grain to several African countries free of charge, Erdoğan also said.

“The most important topic Mr. (President Vladimir) Putin brought up was sending this grain to African countries free of charge, to countries such as Mali, Djibouti, Sudan and Somalia.”

“We will also contribute to its free delivery,” Erdoğan said he told Putin.

He also said that during the meeting in Bali with US President Joe Biden, Biden thanked him for Türkiye’s role in starting and continuing the landmark grain corridor deal

Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov initially announced the extension of the deal with parties were set to release a joint statement.

“This decision was just taken in Istanbul. The United Nations and Türkiye remain guarantors of the Initiative,” Kubrakov said in a Twitter statement.

“We officially appealed to the partners with a proposal to extend the Initiative for 1 year and to include the Mykolaiv port in it. It is also important to ensure the effective operation of the JCC (Joint Coordination Centre). We submit our proposals for solving existing problems,” he also wrote.

The Ukrainian minister added that they “are waiting for official announcement from the leaders of the United Nations and Türkiye.”

Zelenskyy later said in a Twitter statement: “Grain Deal will be prolonged for 120 days. Ukraine together with (U.N. Secretary-General) Antonio Guterres and (Turkish President) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made key decision in the global fight against the food crisis. Waiting for official announcement from partners – Türkiye and U.N.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry also later confirmed the extension of the deal for 120 days starting from Nov. 18, without any changes to the current one, it said in a statement on Thursday.

The United Nations secretary-general said on Thursday he welcomed an agreement by all parties to extend the Black Sea grain deal to facilitate Ukraine’s agricultural exports from its southern Black Sea ports.

“I welcome the agreement by all parties to continue the Black Sea grain initiative to facilitate the safe navigation of export of grain, foodstuffs and fertilizers from Ukraine,” U.N. Secretary-General Guterres said in a statement.

Guterres said the U.N. was also “fully committed to removing the remaining obstacles to exporting food and fertilizers from the Russian Federation” – a part of the deal Moscow sees as critical.

Top European Union officials have hailed the development.

“This is good news for a world that badly needs access to grain and fertilizers,” European Council President Charles Michel tweeted, praising the work of the United Nations.

Touting EU initiatives to help Ukraine export grain, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen praised U.N. Secretary General António Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Von der Leyen said the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative “helps avoid global food shortages and brings down prices despite Russia’s war.”

Relief to food supplies

The initial deal reached in July has helped stave off a global food crisis by allowing the export of food and fertilizers from several of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports that had been blockaded by Russia.

The JCC with officials from the three countries and the U.N. has also been set up in Istanbul to oversee the shipments.

So far, some 11.08 million tons of agricultural products have been shipped, including 4.5 million tons of corn.

Shipments of wheat have reached 3.2 million tons, or 29% of the total. Other commodities shipped include rapeseed, sunflower oil, sunflower meal and barley.

The three ports involved in the deal – Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny – have the combined capacity to ship around 3 million tons a month.

Ukraine wanted to include the ports of the southern Mykolaiv region, which provided 35% of Ukrainian food exports before Russia’s invasion.

Mykolaiv was Ukraine’s second-largest grain terminal according to 2021 shipment data so its addition would allow for a much larger volume of grains and oilseeds to be shipped.

Russia has previously said its consent to extend the Black Sea grain deal depended on support for its own grain and fertilizer exports. Russia is a major agricultural producer and the world’s largest exporter of wheat.

Among its demands, Russia is believed to want the West to ease restrictions on state agriculture lender Rosselkhozbank, a move that should help facilitate more Russian exports.

A drop in shipments from major exporter Ukraine has played a role in this year’s global food price crisis, but there are also other important drivers.

These include the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate shocks which continue to challenge agricultural production, mostly recently droughts in both Argentina and the United States.

The corridor has led to a partial recovery in shipments from Ukraine but they remain well below pre-invasion levels and will not fully recover for the foreseeable future.

Transporting grains to ports there remains challenging and expensive, while Ukrainian farmers have reduced sowings of crops such as wheat after in many cases selling last year’s crops at a loss, with domestic prices remaining very low.


1 reply

  1. it is really difficult to find some positive news among all the world’s media. Well, this is one.

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