Negotiations to extend the Black Sea Grains Agreement begin in Geneva Ship’s crew

GENEVA, March 13 (Reuters) – Negotiations between UN officials and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin began on Monday over a possible extension of an agreement allowing for the safe export of grain from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, the Russian diplomatic mission in said Geneva.

The Black Sea Grains Initiative, brokered between Russia and Ukraine by the United Nations and Turkey last July, aimed to prevent a global food crisis by safely removing Ukrainian grain blocked by the Russian invasion from three Ukrainian ports could be exported.

The contract, which was extended by 120 days in November, is up for renewal on March 18.

Moscow has already signaled it will only agree to an extension if restrictions affecting its own exports are lifted, but many diplomats and senior officials, including Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, are optimistic the deal will be extended.

Russian officials say that although the country’s agricultural exports have not been specifically targeted by the West, sanctions on its payments, logistics and insurance industries have created a barrier to exporting its own grain and fertilizer.

United Nations Trade Envoy Rebeca Grynspan and Aid Chief Martin Griffiths arrived at the United Nations European Headquarters in Geneva on Monday morning without comment.

Two sources involved in the talks said they were originally intended to last just one day but could be extended if necessary.

News of the talks caused wheat and corn prices to fall. Ukraine is a major exporter of both grains.

“Wheat and corn markets are weaker today as talks begin to extend the safe shipping agreement for Ukrainian exports,” said Matt Ammermann, StoneX’s commodity risk manager.

“As such a large exporter of wheat and corn, Ukraine’s supplies are vital to world markets.”

Chicago Board of Trade Wv1 wheat prices fell 0.9% to $6.73-3/4 a bushel by 1152 GMT, while Cv1 corn futures fell 1% to $6.11-1/4 a bushel were.

“I think there are expectations in grain markets that the agreement will be extended, with the deadline just a few days away,” Ammermann said.

“Russia and Ukraine probably won’t get everything they want, but I think the importing countries have been lobbying behind the scenes to extend the shipping deal.”

China is the largest recipient of grain shipped through the corridor.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, Emma Farge and Michael Hogan; Editing by Miranda Murray and Christina Fincher)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2023.

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