Ukraine to seek grain export deal extension

STORY: Ukraine will soon ask to extend the deal allowing it to export grains.

A senior official in the country said it would make a request to Turkey and the United Nations this week.

They brokered the Black Sea Grain Initiative last summer to allow Ukraine to export grain from three ports.

It was then extended in November, but will expire in mid-March unless extended again.

Now Ukraine says it will look for a one-year renewal, saying agricultural markets need some certainty and stability over supplies.

The country also wants an increase in the number of vessel inspection teams to help avoid backlogs.

Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russia of dragging its heels on inspections, which it says leads to reduced shipments.

Moscow denies all such charges, saying it is meeting its obligations under the deal.

Ukraine is a major global supplier of grains, but its exports were down more than a quarter over the past season.

It was hit by smaller harvests and logistical difficulties as a result of the Russian invasion.

Under the deal it now exports about 3 million tonnes of products every month.

But officials say that figure could rise to 8 million tonnes if more ports are included in the agreement.

At least 30 million tonnes are thought to be in silos awaiting export.

No date has yet been set for talks on extending the grains deal.