Delivery of first Ukrainian grain ship cancelled by Lebanese buyer

The 'Razoni' was due to arrive in Tripoli, Lebanon, on Sunday but remains near a Turkish port

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The first grain ship to sail from Ukraine as part of a UN-backed deal has had its order cancelled after the original Lebanese buyer refused to accept the cargo, citing a five-month delay.

The Razoni was supposed to dock in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest city, on Sunday — but shipping data shows it near the port of Mersin in Turkey. It is carrying more than 26,000 tonnes of corn for chicken feed.

Kyiv’s embassy in Beirut said that “due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the closure of the ports,” the shipment had arrived five months late.

“The buyer company and the seller company reached an agreement to cancel the order. Currently, the seller is considering other grain purchase orders,” the embassy added.

The embassy had earlier said that “the buyer in Lebanon refused to accept the cargo due to delays in delivery terms”.

“So the shipper is now looking for another consignee to offload his cargo either in Lebanon/Tripoli or any other country/port.”

Twelve ships have now been allowed to sail under the grain deal between Ukraine and Russia, which was brokered by Turkey and the UN — 10 outbound and two inbound. About 322,000 metric tonnes of product have left Ukraine’s ports, most of it corn but also sunflower oil and soy.

The deal was desperately needed by the world given the global reliance on Ukraine and Russia’s agricultural exports.

Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Lebanon was already in dire economic straits.

An economic collapse that first became apparent in 2019 has led to the local currency plunging by more than 90 per cent, pushing much of Lebanon into poverty.

There are widespread shortages of basic products, including bread, water, electricity and medicine.

A deal to hasten wheat exports from Ukraine is seen as vital to alleviating at least one problem in the country's complex crisis.

The UN says an overall increase in exports will help ease pressure on global food markets.

“It’s very important that these ships be able to leave regardless of where their destination is, because the fact that they’re moving brings down the price of food globally,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday.

Ukraine's grain, oilseed and vegetable oil exports rose 22.7 per cent in July versus June to 2.66 million tonnes thanks to higher wheat and barley shipments, the agriculture ministry said on Wednesday.

July's exports included 412,000 tonnes of wheat, 183,000 tonnes of barley and 1.1 million tonnes of corn, the ministry said.

However, in a separate statement the ministry said Ukrainian grain exports were still down by almost 52 per cent year-on-year at 2.2 million tonnes, so far in the 2022/23 season.

Updated: August 10, 2022, 1:42 PM