Ukraine has begun exporting grain through Croatian seaports in a bid to widen its export routes as its Black Sea ports are blocked, a senior Ukrainian official said on Thursday.
Ukraine’s main grain export route used to be through Black Sea ports, but Kyiv has been looking for alternatives since Russia’s invasion last year and Moscow’s decision in July to withdraw from an agreement allowing safe transport on the Black Sea. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba said during a visit to the capital of Zagreb at the end of July that Ukraine and Croatia had agreed on the possibility of using Croatian ports on the Danube and the Adriatic for Ukrainian grain exports.
“Ukrainian grain has already been exported through Croatian ports. We are grateful for this possibility. Although it is a niche trade route, it is already popular,” said First Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrdenko.
“We are ready to develop it by expanding the capacities of the transport corridor,” she added. “We believe that this logistics route will play an important role in bilateral trade between our countries even after the war,” the Ukrainian official added in a written response to Reuters.
Svirydenko did not say how much Ukrainian wheat has already been shipped through Croatian ports. Since Russia abandoned the UN-mediated agreement guaranteeing safe Ukrainian grain exports across the Black Sea, Kyiv has increasingly used its Danube ports to export grain.
However, Russia has been attacking Ukrainian port infrastructure on the Danube almost daily as of late. Some exports are also sent by rail, but Ukrainian brokers have said that rail deliveries to European ports are much more expensive than direct exports through Ukrainian ports.
The Ukrainian traders’ union, UGA, said this week that the combined grain and seed-oil harvest in 2023 could reach 80.5 million tonnes, and that means 49 million tonnes could be exported in the July-June 2023/24 season.
The Agriculture Ministry in Kyiv said this month that Ukrainian exports totaled 4.5 million tonnes on Sept. 1.