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Expansion of Ukraine Grain Deal Unlikely in the Near Term

December 19 ------ At the end of a four-day visit to Ukraine, Martin Griffiths, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said it was unlikely the Black Sea grain deal would be expanded in the near term to include more Ukrainian ports. Officials in Kyiv have been lobbying for the agreement to be extended to include the Mykolaiv port and changes to the inspection process to expedite the clearance process and permit more grain to be exported.

Speaking at a press conference to mark the end of his visit Griffiths said that he did not expect to see any additional ports added to the current agreement in the near term. “I think it would be great if it could be expanded; the more grain that gets out into the world, the better clearly from our point of view, from the world’s point of view,” he said. “But I don’t think that’s immediately likely. Any expansion of grain or fertilizer export is what we are after, and in a world gone mad, which is the world we live in, that becomes the highest priority.” The initiative allows significant volumes of commercial food exports from three crucial Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea – Odessa, Chernomorsk, and Yuzhny.

Russia and Ukraine account for roughly 30 percent of all wheat and barley exports, a fifth of the world's maize exports, and more than half of all sunflower oil. The main commercial buyers for these Ukrainian grain cargoes have been Spain, China, Italy, and Turkey, but cargoes have also been shipped to dozens of nations in the developing world. To date, nearly 14 million tons of Ukrainian grain have departed via the corridor. Initially signed in late July, the agreement was due to expire in November but was extended an additional 120 days. This week alone, 20 ships have departed Ukraine ports with 487 tons of grain, the largest being the Star Emerald, bound for Indonesia with 71 tons of wheat.



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