Ukraine: Faster inspections key for Black Sea Grain Initiative’s efficiency

Ukraine’s efforts to increase exports under the Black Sea Grain Initiative with Russia are currently focused on securing faster inspections of ships rather than including more ports in the initiative.

According to Reuters, Kyiv accuses Russia of carrying out the inspections too slowly, causing weeks of delays for ships and reducing the supply of Ukrainian grain to foreign markets. Russia has denied slowing down the process.

In fact, referring to a port that is not part of the deal, a senior Ukrainian official said: "Why open the port of Mykolaiv if at the current rate of exports we can close half of the ports of Odesa, which are already open?"

Namely, Ukraine exported around 7 million tonnes of agricultural products in September and October and 6 million in November, but shipments fell sharply to less than 4 million in December.

In addition, Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry mentioned that no new vessels were currently expected to arrive in Ukraine for loading. More specifically, 94 vessels were waiting for inspection in the Bosphorus, including 69 empty vessels for loading and 25 which had already been loaded with agricultural products.

Vessels are waiting for an average of more than a month, the ministry added.

On November 2022, UN and Ukraine agreed to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative by 120 days, aiming to ease global food shortages by facilitating Ukraine’s agricultural exports from its southern Black Sea ports.

Earlier, and after announcing their exit from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Russia informed that it will eventually renew its participation, as it considers that “the guarantees received at the moment appear sufficient.”

Russia had exit the agreement, claiming that the deal cannot guarantee the safety of civilian ships crossing the Black Sea.

However, on November 2, after days of negotiations, Russia decided to participate again, noting that it received enough guarantees to resume the implementation of the agreement.