Ukraine traders seek transparent rules on how cargo ships queue

The grain export deal is set to expire on March 18
calendar icon 1 March 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Ukrainian grain traders union UGA asked the government on Wednesday to provide transparent rules on how cargo ships should queue before loading at Ukrainian Black Sea ports under a grain export deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, reported Reuters.

"It is extremely important that work in Ukraine is open and transparent," UGA said in a statement.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative that was brokered last July allowed grain to be exported from three Ukrainian ports that had been blockaded by Russia following its invasion.

The agreement was extended in November and will expire on March 18 unless an extension is agreed.

Ukraine has accused Russia of delaying inspections of ships carrying Ukrainian agricultural goods, leading to reduced shipments and losses for traders. Russia has denied those accusations.

UGA proposed changing the system for queues of ships, so that it is organised on a monthly basis by stevedores or terminals rather than by vessels. The priority should go to vessels registered as in the queue as of Feb. 9, it said.

The union also said terminals should provide the Ukrainian seaport authority every two weeks with a detailed plan of ships movements for passing on to the Joint Coordination Center in Turkey which oversees implementation of the deal.

UGA also proposed allocating a ship quota for each operator, making it public in advance and prohibiting any changes to the established queue in terms of quota distribution to terminals.

"One of the main tasks of the state is to create procedures and rules that will ensure the country's sustainable development. One of these rules is free access to markets and the creation of a competitive environment," UGA said.

The Ukrainian agriculture ministry said on Wednesday the country's grain exports so far for the 2022/23 season were down almost 26% at 32.3 million tonnes, hit by a smaller harvest and logistical difficulties caused by the Russian invasion.

Ukrainian government source said this week Kyiv had sent an appeal to the UN and Turkey to start negotiations on extending a grain export deal, but so far there has been no response.

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