Ukraine and Russia have agreed a deal which will allow for the resumption of grain exports via the Black Sea.
The deal was brokered in Istanbul, Turkey, this week.
While a formal agreement has not been signed, the deal has been hailed as an extremely encouraging sign and a “critical step forward” by the United Nations secretary general António Guterres.
It will allow for the export of millions of tonnes of grain through the key trading route.
The Turkish government has been working with the UN to broker a deal for weeks, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February saw a major rise in prices of grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertiliser, together with major supply chain issues across the world.
“Since the war started, I have been underlining the importance of having Ukraine’s food products and Russian food and fertiliser fully available in world markets,” Guterres said.
He said that the war in Ukraine rages on, but the “hopeful news” from the Istanbul talks “shows the importance of dialogue.”
The secretary general said that he hoped the first meeting in Istanbul would lead to another “very soon”, potentially next week.
Head of the office of the president of Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, said that Black Sea security is a priority in the issue of resuming of Ukrainian agricultural export.
“That is why Ukraine has proposed to form a basic navigation algorithm for the Black Sea. It will ensure the Ukraine grain export and guarantee food security for millions of people.
“Based on the results of today's meeting, the parties agreed to form a joint coordination center under the UN auspices. It will be located in Istanbul.
“Its task will be to carry out general monitoring and coordination of safe navigation in the Black Sea,” he said.
Irish imports from Ukraine
Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show that last year, Ireland imported 189,177t of maize from Ukraine. This accounted for 16% of maize imports in 2021.
To-date this year, Ireland has imported 132,859t of maize from Ukraine. These imports arrived in January, February and March, with the provisional CSO data showing the decrease in imports following the Russian invasion.
In January, 77,875t of maize was imported. This figure fell to 33,000t in February and 21,984t in March. The March imports are likely to be from ships carrying grain which had already left ports before the invasion on 24 February.
The provisional data shows that there were no maize imports to Ireland from Ukraine in April.