Under a U.N.-brokered agreement, inspections of ships bringing Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea started on Wednesday. However, Kyiv will struggle to win an extension of the arrangement, and an expanding import embargo in Eastern Europe, as reported by Xinde Marine.
Protecting local farmers
Bulgaria has joined other EU member states in blocking Ukrainian grain imports to protect local farmers from cheaper supplies due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, Romania has not banned imports but tightened controls on transit. Moscow and Kyiv blame each other for the halt in ship inspections at the Bosphorus. The Black Sea Grain Initiative, aimed at alleviating the global food crisis and supporting Ukraine, was unblocked last July, but Russia says it is only committed until May 18. Talks are ongoing to extend the deal, and the Russian Foreign Minister will discuss it with the UN Secretary-General next week.
Kyiv is seeking to lift bans on Ukrainian grain and food products imposed by Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. These countries are transit routes for Ukrainian grain that cannot be exported by sea due to Russia’s invasion, causing bottlenecks that have reduced prices and sales for local farmers. The EU plans to compensate farmers in countries bordering Ukraine with 100 million euros and to introduce restrictions on imports of Ukrainian grains. Poland has agreed to lift the transit ban and will now monitor and seal Ukrainian grain cargoes that cross its territory. However, some Ukrainian farmers are concerned that this measure will only benefit large and medium agricultural holdings, leaving small farmers struggling.
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Source: Xinde Marine