Ukraine is considering a push for larger ships to use its crop-export corridor, in an effort to bolster volumes as inspection lags slow trade.
Ships transiting the country’s ports have often been delayed near Istanbul, where cargoes must be checked by teams from Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations -- the parties involved in the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
The deal has revived Ukraine’s seaborne trade despite the war, although congestion has held up sales. A queue of 105 ships was waiting in Turkish waters as of Monday, with some stalled for more than a month, according to the initiative’s Joint Coordination Centre.
Given the bottlenecks, Ukrainian officials recently held talks with agriculture industry representatives about prioritizing bigger ships, according to Roman Slaston, head of the Ukrainian Agribusiness Council. A proposal was discussed to restrict the corridor to larger vessels: at least 15,000 tons for those carrying bulk grain or oilseeds, and 6,000 tons or more for vegetable-oil tankers.
Ukrainian Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotskyi confirmed the discussions, which were held at a meeting of the Coordination Center on Logistics Issues in Agriculture. The center, formed in April, acts as an advisory body to the industry, although it can’t pass formal rules.
A UN spokesperson for the Black Sea Grain Initiative said the deal has no restrictions on vessel size and ship movements are authorized based on applications from the Ukrainian seaport authority.
More than 500 ships have departed Ukraine’s Black Sea ports since the deal was inked in July, carrying 12 million tons of crops abroad. Of the total, about half were smaller than 15,000 tons, JCC data show.
Delegations at the JCC are considering ways to accelerate inspections, it said Monday.
Coceral, a European grain-industry lobby, on Tuesday also called for more transparency around the inspections. It said delays -- coupled with strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure -- are forcing local farmers to sell at discounted prices and adding pressure on world food security.