The Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, has become an ad hoc site for negotiations to save the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

The UN delegation met with the Russian delegation on Friday and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is hoping to meet with Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov while the two are in Bali, a UN spokesman said Monday.

The UN-brokered deal to allow Ukraine to export wheat, corn and other farm commodities from three ports in Odesa has allowed more than 10 million tons to be shipped out of the Black Sea while the war rages, but that agreement will expire if Russia doesn’t agree to its renewal before Saturday, Nov. 19.

A separate deal promises the free flow of Russian fertilizer exports, but Moscow continues to complain about difficulties.

UN officials are also talking to Kiev, but much of the effort is centered around assuring Russia that obstacles to its ability to export fertilizer are being removed.

“Our engagement with the European Union, United States and United Kingdom has helped move many of the impediments to market access (for Russian fertilizer),” Guterres said in a press conference on the sidelines of the G20 summit. “These products are not subject to sanctions, but suffer indirect impacts. And so we are working nonstop to resolve all remaining issues, chiefly around payments and to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative.”

Russia is having the most difficulty exporting its ammonia. The country does not have any terminals to load it onto ships, so it has traditionally relied on sending it to terminals in Baltic countries and to Ukraine through a pipeline that was shut down after the invasion.

While the European Union does not have sanctions on Russian fertilizer, there are sanctions on owners of Russian fertilizer companies, which complicates matters further, Georgy Eliseev, a market analyst for S&P Global Commodity Insights, told Agri-Pulse last week.

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Guterres addressed the Russian fertilizer issue in terms of freeing up supplies in order to benefit farmers who are suffering from shortages and high prices.

“Fertilizer prices are up to three times higher than before the pandemic and we are working to end all obstacles to the free flow of Russian food and fertilizer to global markets,” he said.

Time is running out quickly for negotiations to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative, but Guterres said he is optimistic.

“There was a lot of progress in removing the obstacles to Russian food and fertilizer and I’m hopeful our efforts will go on being successful – we’ll be able to remove the last obstacles and I’m hopeful the BSGI will be renewed.”

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