Ukraine shipped 3.33 million tones of grains through the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta in the first quarter, the port authority told Reuters, as Ukrainian exporters continue to seek alternative trade routes.
Ukraine had its Black Sea ports blocked following Russia's February 2022 invasion and found alternative shipping routes through European Union states Poland and Romania, helped by "solidarity lanes" supported by the EU.
Access to three Ukrainian Black Sea ports was cleared at the end of July under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv, but its export capabilities are still restricted compared with the situation before Russia's invasion.
In 2022 as a whole, exporters shipped 8.6 million tones of Ukrainian grain through Constanta, by train, truck and barges on the river Danube. The port, which has a storage capacity of around 2 millions tones, handled grain exports worth 24.01 million tonnes overall last year.
Romania's state railroad company CFR told Reuters it had reopened or rehabilitated 47 cargo and passenger rail lines linking Romania with Ukraine and neighbouring Moldova in 2022.
Works to rehabilitate rail lines in the port are ongoing.
But millions of tones of Ukrainian grains - cheaper than what is produced in the EU - still ended up in neighbouring countries, due to logistical bottlenecks and shorter distances.
Anger has therefore risen among farmers in Central and Eastern Europe over a flood of cheap Ukrainian grain imports, exempt from customs fees until June 2024, which have hurt prices and sales of local producers.
Poland's agriculture minister resigned last week after farmers' protests, while thousands of farmers protested across Romania on Friday, blocking traffic and border checkpoints.
The prime ministers of Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia last month asked the European Commission to take action on Ukrainian agricultural imports.
Poland said on Friday it would temporarily halt imports of Ukrainian grain into its domestic market, while still allowing transit.
"To me, temporarily halting imports is the solution at this moment that could create some comfort for farmers in the region," Romanian Farm Minister Petre Daea told Reuters, adding that import bans needed to be cleared with the Commission.
News by Reuters, edited by Donna Ahern, Checkout. For more supply chain stories, click here. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.