Shipping Coordination Centre opens in Istanbul

As efforts continue to shift grain out of silos in Ukraine into flour mills in Egypt and elsewhere, Turkey has opened a joint shipping coordination centre in Istanbul that will oversee Ukrainian grain exports.

Turkey’s defines ministry, which signed the agreement with the UN, Russia, and Ukraine, said that a ceremony would be held on Wednesday July 27th to open the centre at its National Defence University.

The centre will be staffed by members of all four parties. It will monitor ships transiting the Black Sea to Turkey’s Bosphorus strait and thence to world markets.

Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said that “an agreement has been reached on the establishment of a coordination centre with representatives of all sides, joint controls for checking grains at harbours. It will ensuring the safety of the vessels in the transit routes.”

There are no signs yet about when the exports might begin or when insurance concerns will be settled. Belief on the Ukraine side that shipments could begin this week continue to look optimistic.

The immediate major obstacle is freeing up the more than 80 ships stuck in Ukrainian ports since the February invasion.

However, freight for new sales will be complex to get into place.

The UN expected the first blocked ships to move out within a few days.

The London market Joint War Committee has invited underwriters to participate in what it called a “special market facility” to support grain shipments. There were hopes that the structure of this could be announced by the end of the week.

Ukraine’s government has published a call for ships willing to take part in grain-export caravans from the three ports involved in the deal — Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi.

Analyst UkrAgroConsult said in a note that insurers would be prepared to cover Ukrainian grain vessels only if escorts were provided and a strategy for combating sea mines was in place.