EU to open "solidarity lanes" to help Ukraine's grain exports

(Xinhua) 09:10, May 13, 2022

BRUSSELS, May 12 (Xinhua) -- The European Commission on Thursday proposed to establish new so-called "solidarity lanes" to ensure that Ukraine can export grain to the European Union (EU) and also import the goods it needs, from humanitarian aid to animal feed and fertilizers, as Ukraine's ports have been blocked due to Russia-Ukraine.

Ukraine's inability to export its agricultural produce through Black Sea ports because of the blockade is threatening global food security and has prompted the development of an action plan to overcome this hurdle, the Commission said in a statement.

Under normal circumstances, Ukraine exports 75 percent of the grain it produces, generating around 20 percent of its annual export revenues. Before the conflict, Ukraine's Black Sea ports handled 90 percent of its grain and oilseed exports.

"Twenty million tonnes of grains have to leave Ukraine in less than three months using the EU infrastructure," Transport Commissioner Adina Valean said in a statement. "This is a gigantesque challenge, so it is essential to coordinate and optimize the logistic chains, put in place new routes and avoid, as much as possible, the bottlenecks."

The Commission said that in spite of immediate efforts by the EU and its member states to ease border crossings between Ukraine and the EU, thousands of wagons and lorries are waiting for clearance on the Ukrainian side. The average current waiting time for wagons is 16 days, while it is up to 30 days at some borders. More grain is still stored and held back in Ukrainian silos ready for export.

Among the challenges are differing rail gauge widths since the wagons used in Ukraine are not compatible with most of the EU rail network, so most goods need to be transhipped to lorries or wagons that fit the EU standard gauge.

(Web editor: Peng Yukai, Liang Jun)


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