Chinese grain traders hope Black Sea deal to cover their stranded shipments soon
Published: Aug 02, 2022 08:53 PM
The Sierra Leone-flagged dry cargo ship Razoni departs from the port of Odesa in Odessa, Ukraine on August 01, 2022 as part of a recent grain export deal signed between Turkey, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine and is expected to reach Istanbul tomorrow.Photo:VCG

The Sierra Leone-flagged dry cargo ship Razoni departs from the port of Odesa in Odessa, Ukraine on August 01, 2022. Photo:VCG

As the first cargo ship left Ukraine's Odessa Port since the Russia-Ukraine conflict started in February, Chinese grain traders said on Tuesday they are following the matter closely and some expressed hope that their stranded cargo could get the green light as soon as possible.

The Sierra Leone-flagged Razoni, loaded with 26,000 tons of corn, is reportedly anchoring off Istanbul, the Turkish city that straddles the Bosporus Strait, on Tuesday after the UN, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine signed agreements to re-open Ukraine's Black Sea ports as part of efforts to address a growing global food shortage.

Chinese grain traders said that they are watching the matter with rapt attention, and one told the Global Times that they hope some of the vessels loaded with grain that was already paid for by Chinese companies could get going as soon as possible.

One trader who specialized in importing grain from Ukraine before the conflict told the Global Times on Tuesday that his company has a ship loaded with 60,000 tons of corn stranded in Port Yuzhnyi.

"We had already paid for the cargo, but the ship has been stranded at the port since February. We hope our ship could get clearance to go as well. The grain inside the ship faces rising risks of going bad," the trader said on condition of anonymity. 

"I estimate there are at least 10 loaded ships like ours in the region," the trader said. 

Another trader, who also spoke to the Global Times on condition of anonymity, said he is also following the situation and he has concerns about the capacity of the current arrangement to export grain from Ukraine, including wheat and corn. 

"In the coming four months, there could be 3 million tons of grain coming out of Ukraine every month. Existing and new crops will total about 35 million tons, a big volume to be shipped out in the coming eight months, and the transportation could be an issue," the trader said.

Ukraine is a major supplier of barley and corn to China, according to the Securities Times.

US public broadcaster NPR reported on Monday that at least 68 vessels, about half loaded with grain, have been stuck in the country's Black Sea ports since February, citing the Ukrainian Seaport Authority. A report by put the number of vessels waiting to depart from Odessa at 16. 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted on Monday that the ship departing from Odessa on Monday must be the first of many commercial ships bringing relief to global food markets. 

The conflict has reduced Ukrainian grain exports to one-sixth of the pre-conflict level, while Russia's grain and fertilizer exports also dropped. Global grain prices soared, according to Al Jazeera.

The deal, known officially as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, allows for significant volumes of exports from the ports of Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny.

Experts said that grain imports from Ukraine are a worthy supplement to China's grain supply, especially for corn, which China has a big demand for in the sectors of edible oil production and pig farming. 

An official of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said that China's grain storage, including rough rice and wheat, is enough for a full year's consumption at a press conference on July 20.