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Ukraine’s Seaborne Grain Exports Bounce Back to Near Prewar Levels


The 700-foot Liberian-flagged ship slowly sailed out of the Ukrainian port of Odesa, past rows of yellow cranes and into the still waters of the Black Sea. Its hull was almost completely submerged, weighed down with corn bound for Bangladesh. Offshore, more grain-laden freighters had already left the port, passing vessels about to enter.

It was mid-March in Odesa, and what seemed unimaginable just last summer, when a Russian naval blockade paralyzed all commercial activity, was now a reality. The port was back to its usual hustle and bustle, the result of a military campaign that pushed Russian warships out of Ukrainian waters and secured a shipping route to markets abroad.

The operation has been so successful that Ukraine’s seaborne grain and oilseed exports — an economic lifeline for the war-torn nation — are now approaching prewar levels, according to data shared with The New York Times.

In the past six months, Ukraine has exported 27.6 million metric tons of grain and oilseed through the Black Sea, the country’s main export route, according to figures from the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority. That is just 0.2 million metric tons short of the average export volume in the same period from 2018 to 2021, before Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022.

In the first quarter of this year, Black Sea grain exports even exceeded prewar levels, according to the Ukrainian data.


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