France and Romania reach agreement to boost Ukrainian grain exports, says transport minister

Clement Beaune, France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs, speaks during the European Rail Summit in Saint-Denis, near Paris, France, February 21, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

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  • The aim is to send more cereals to developing countries
  • Will work to strengthen Romania’s port, river and rail infrastructure
  • Comes after Putin’s criticism of UN-brokered grain deal

PARIS, Sept 11 (Reuters) – France’s transport minister said on Sunday he would sign an agreement with Romania to help boost Ukrainian grain exports to developing countries, including the Mediterranean.

Ukraine’s grain exports have plummeted since the start of the war because its Black Sea ports, a key shipping route, were closed, pushing up global food prices and raising fears of shortages in Africa and in the Middle-East.

Romania, the EU’s second wheat exporter to third countries, including Egypt, after France and the first for maize (maize), was one of the alternative routes used to export Ukrainian cereals.

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“Tomorrow, I will sign an agreement with Romania which will allow Ukraine to take out even more cereals (…) towards Europe and the developing countries, in particular in the Mediterranean (countries) which need it to feed themselves “Clement Beaune told LCI television, adding that the agreement covered exports by land, sea and river.

According to a draft agreement of the Franco-Romanian agreement, seen by Reuters, Paris would cooperate in the development of a project aimed at increasing the efficiency of the port of Galati, equipping the border points in northern Romania, maximizing the use of grain containers parked in the port. of Constanța as well as the increase in capacity there and in the Sulina channel.

It would also make it possible to build a medium-term strategy on the axes of the corridor between Romania and Ukraine and to provide piles to optimize maritime traffic. France will also fund initial technical expertise and work with Bucharest to identify funding for the future.

Without citing a source, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on September 7 that only two of the 87 ships, carrying 60,000 tons of grain products exported under an international agreement brokered by the United Nations, had gone to poor countries. .

The agreement allowing grain exports from Ukrainian Black Sea ports entered into force in August. Beaune rejected Putin’s claim.

Citing UN figures, the UK Ministry of Defense also refuted the claim and said around 30% of grain exported under the deal was supplied to low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Middle East and Asia. Read more

Ukraine said it intended to use road, river and rail links to boost its monthly grain exports. Read more

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Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Raissa Kasolowsky

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