Ukraine says it is shipping grain via Croatian ports

Ukraine has said that it has begun exporting grain from Croatian seaports on the Danube and Adriatic Sea.

After its main Black Sea route was first blocked, then partially restored, and then in July this year blocked again, Ukraine has slowly been diversifying its range of transport options for grain.

Foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said during a visit to Zagreb in late July that Ukraine and Croatia had agreed on the possibility of using Croatian ports on the Danube and the Adriatic Sea for the export of Ukrainian grain. “Ukrainian grain has already been exported through Croatian ports. We are grateful for this possibility. Although it is a niche trade route, it is already popular,” said first deputy prime minister Yulia Svyrydenko, adding that “we are ready to develop it by expanding the capabilities of the transport corridor”.

She also said that “we believe that this logistics route will play an important role in bilateral trade between our countries even after the war.”

However, the actual numbers have not been revealed, which led observers to conclude that the volume thus far had probably not been that great. Exports to Croatian ports could theoretically be by barge up the Danube, by road, and, with difficulty, by rail. However the road option is cheaper for exporters if they head north of the Adriatic. The rail option, given different gauge sizes, is relatively expensive.

Ukrainian traders union UGA said last week that the 2023 combined grain and oilseed harvest could reach 80.5m tonnes, with about 49m tonnes exported in 2023/24 July-June season.

Meanwhile the Ukrainian agriculture ministry said that exports in August reached about 4.5m tonnes.