Over 4 million tons of grain so far shipped out of Ukraine under Istanbul deal

28 September 20222 min reading

Since the first vessel sailed under the Istanbul grain export deal on Aug. 1, more than 200 ships have carried over 4 million tons of agricultural products through the grain corridor.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said more than 4 million metric tons of grain have been shipped out of Ukraine as part of the landmark Istanbul deal. Erdoğan said the deal, brokered by the United Nations and Türkiye to unblock Ukrainian seaports, was running ‘smoothly.’ “More than 4 million tons of grain have been exported through the grain corridor. It is still continuing,” the president told reporters on 23rd September in Istanbul.

Ukraine’s grain exports slumped after Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24 and blockaded its Black Sea ports, driving up global food prices and prompting fears of shortages in Africa and the Middle East. Three Black Sea ports were reopened under the grain deal signed on July 22 by Moscow and Kyiv. Ukraine, a global major grain producer and exporter, shipped up to 6 million tons of grain per month before the war.

Erdoğan also reiterated the importance of exporting Russian grain and fertilizers, stressing it would help poor countries. “One of the most important possible next steps is to bring (to the markets) grains from Russia,” Erdogan said. “So far, it has been mostly grains from Ukraine. Fertilizers from Russia are needed to bring some prosperity to the poorer, developing nations,” the Turkish president added.

Ankara has actively stated its desire to facilitate the delivery of products from Russia since early September. According to Erdogan, the issue was discussed at his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Samarkand. The Russian export did not start due to the concerns of secondary sanctions on the companies and banks that would be involved in the operation. Talks with the U.N. are still underway to overcome these obstacles.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently criticized the grain corridor deal, pointing to shipments that have headed to Europe. US officials say some of the grain is then processed and sent to poorer countries. Concerns are also mounting on the long-term impacts. A recent report by the Ukraine Conflict Observatory, a non-governmental US group, found that around 15 percent of Ukraine grain stocks have been lost since the invasion began. And experts warn that disruptions in fertilizer shipments could seriously impede future harvests worldwide.

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