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The Romanian Prime Minister hopes that 60% of Ukrainian grain exports will pass through Romania

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Roughly 60% of Ukraine’s grain exports could pass through neighboring Romania after Russia halted a UN-brokered safe passage through the Black Sea, Romanian Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu said on Friday.

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, and Russia has attacked its agricultural and port infrastructure after refusing to extend the year-old safe passage.

Even before the deal fell through, Constanta, Romania’s Black Sea port, had emerged as Ukraine’s largest alternative shipping route.

Ukraine shipped 8.1 million tons of grain through Constanta in the first seven months of the year and a total of 8.6 million tons in 2022.

“We hope that more than 60% of the total volume of Ukrainian grain exports will pass through Romania,” Ciolacu said after a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Bucharest.

He said Romania is trying to improve its connectivity infrastructure by rail, road, river and sea, as well as at border crossings.

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Earlier this month, Romania’s Transport Minister Sorin Grindeanu said the European Union and the NATO state of Romania aim to double the monthly transit capacity of Ukrainian grain to Constanta to 4 million tons in the coming months.

Ciolacu also said Romania, which is one of the EU’s largest grain exporters, will balance efforts to boost the transit of Ukrainian grain to international markets to protect local farmers.

Romania is one of five eastern EU countries to have seen a surge in grain imports from Ukraine since the Russian invasion, disrupting local markets and sparking protests from farmers, leading the EU to adopt temporary trade restrictions.

The import ban expires on September 15, and the five states have asked for it to be extended at least through the end of the year.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie, Editing by Barbara Lewis)

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