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Brussels cancels plans to transport Ukrainian grain through EU ports

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Following Russia’s decision to suspend passage through the Black Sea, the EU could offer alternative routes for almost all of Ukraine’s grain exports, the EU agriculture commissioner said.

Janusz Wojciechovsky said on Tuesday that the EU should expand the “solidarity lanes” (road, river and rail links first established in 2022 after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine) so that more food from Ukraine and Moldova can be shipped to EU ports for transport to Africa and Asia.

“We are ready to export almost everything Ukraine needs through the Solidarity Lane.”[to send]. . . About 4 million tons per month. We achieved this production in November 2022,” he said at a press conference in Brussels after the meeting of agriculture ministers.

of EU solidarity lane Currently, it accounts for about 60% of Ukraine’s grain exports, with the remaining 40% going through the Black Sea.

Russia’s decision earlier this month withdraw Imports from the UN-backed Black Sea Grains Initiative, which guarantees safe passage for ships using the route, boosted prices.

Wheat prices climbed to a five-month high on Tuesday, influenced by Russia. expanded the attack Destroyed grain silos in Odesa, transporting grain by river to a port that transported it to Romania.

Wheat futures trading in Chicago rose as much as 2.6 percent to $7.7725 a bushel, the highest since mid-February.

Between them, Russia and Ukraine produce about 30% of the world’s wheat trade, raising concerns about wheat shortages.

Wojciechovsky said the transportation costs of Ukrainian grain (such as train and truck rental fees) were too high and the EU should subsidize it, otherwise customers would buy cheaper Russian products instead.

He also supported Ukraine’s demand to move customs and health inspections for food shipments from the EU border to ports to reduce queues and costs.

“Efforts are being strengthened to improve the capacity of the Solidarity Lane and to streamline procedures and facilitate trade flows,” said Miriam García-Feller, the European Commission’s trade spokeswoman.

Lithuania has proposed opening a northern sea route from Poland to Baltic ports. The city of Vilnius wrote to the committee requesting investment in the route, which could transport 25 million tons of grain per year.

Lithuanian Agriculture Minister Kestutis Navitskas told reporters that European railway companies should pay for the necessary infrastructure. Ukrainian railway gauges are different from Poland, so cargo has to be moved from train to train at the border.

Kiev also wrote to Brussels, asking for financial support and the transfer of customs and medical examinations.

Since the war began in February 2022, 41 million tonnes of grains, oilseeds and related products have left Ukraine through the Solidarity Lane, compared to 33 million tonnes through the Black Sea.

Wojciechowski also said the commission will discuss requests from Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia next month. extend trade restrictions About Ukrainian grain imports. Five front-line provinces claim crop gluts are driving down prices for their farmers and drying up storage space, but Poland’s agriculture commissioner said much is now on the way.

The import ban was lifted after the commission agreed that shipments of five grains from Ukraine would only be transited en route to other destinations.

The five countries want to extend the restrictions to soft fruits and other crops, extending the measures beyond the planned Sept. 15 deadline.

Poland’s Agriculture Minister Robert Teras has faced calls from farmers to resign over the issue, and the government wants to calm them down ahead of national elections in the fall.

But Germany’s Agriculture Minister Cem Ozdemir criticized the five countries for proposing curbs despite receiving €100 million from the EU as compensation for lost income for farmers. “It is unacceptable for states to receive money from Brussels as mitigation measures and then close their borders,” he told reporters.

Spain’s Agriculture Minister Luis Planas, who chaired Tuesday’s ministerial meeting, said he had “mixed feelings” about the idea.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attacked the move in a speech Monday night. “Any extension of restrictions is absolutely unacceptable and completely un-European. Europe has the institutional capacity to act more rationally than to close borders for certain products,” he said.

Additional reporting by Roman Olearchyk from Kiev and Raphael Minder from Warsaw

https://www.ft.com/content/a26770c3-9924-4fd9-b83d-3e1db75ef836 Brussels cancels plans to transport Ukrainian grain through EU ports

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