Leaders in the United Nations, Turkey and Russia are announcing that a deal has been reached to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative for another 120 days beyond Nov. 19, when the original deal would have expired without a new agreement.
“With the delivery of more than 11 million tons of grains and foodstuffs to those in need via approximately 500 ships over the past four months, the significance and benefits of this agreement for the food supply and security of the world have become evident,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a tweet Thursday morning.
The UN, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey signed off on the Black Sea Grain Initiative on July 22 after intense negotiations to allow Ukrainian exports of wheat, corn, sunflower seed oil and other ag commodities to flow out of three ports in Odesa despite the ongoing war. A safe corridor was created for the shipments out of the Black Sea and through the Bosporus Strait, where UN, Russian, Turkish and Ukrainian representatives in a Joint Cooperation Center inspect incoming and outgoing ships.
Ukraine had been struggling to export its grain through alternative routes, and the Initiative greatly expanded the flow of trade, helping push down global food prices.
“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,” said UN Secretary General António Guterres, who met this week with Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov and the head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Group of 20 on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, to negotiate. “The initiative demonstrates the importance of discreet diplomacy in finding multilateral solutions.”
The UN, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine also agreed on a second deal on July 22 that assured the free flow of Russian fertilizer and wheat, although Moscow has complained in recent months that not enough was being done to make that happen.
It's unclear if a deal was reached on Moscow’s demand to restart an ammonia pipeline that runs from the Togliatti facility in Samara, Russia, to the Yuzhny port in Ukraine. The pipeline was idled when Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia accounted for 25% of the global ammonia market before the war.
The Russian media outlets Kommersant and RIA Novosti quoted Sergey Vershinin, deputy head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, expressing the importance of the pipeline and saying that ammonia was specifically included in the second July 22 agreement.
“There is a documentary basis for the export of ammonia, including through the Black Sea. In particular, this concerns the Togliatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline,” Vershinin is quoted as saying. “According to available information, the pipeline is in good condition and can technically be restarted.”
Guterres, in a separate statement, made it clear that facilitating Russian fertilizer exports is still a priority.
“The United Nations is fully committed to supporting the Joint Coordination Centre so that this vital supply line continues to function smoothly,” he said. “The United Nations is also fully committed to removing the remaining obstacles to exporting food and fertilizers from the Russian Federation. Both agreements signed in Istanbul three months ago are essential to bring down the prices of food and fertilizer and avoid a global food crisis.”
Georgy Eliseev, a market analyst for S&P Global Commodity Insights, tells Agri-Pulse that if an agreement has not already been reached on the ammonia pipeline, there is a much better chance now that it will soon be restarted.
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