Moldova Danube port offers alternative export route for Ukraine agricultural exports

MOLDOVA—Giurgiulesti Port, located at the confluence of Danube and Prut rivers is helping get grain and fuel in and out of neighboring Ukraine since Russia blockaded ports along the Ukrainian Black Sea coast.

 With Russia and Ukraine together usually supplying about 30 per cent of the world’s grain, global food security has been at risk since Russia’s invasion in February.

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This prompted the hunt for other ways to export Ukraine’s agricultural exports to the world and import supplies to keep its economy running as normally as possible.

Among possibilities being explored are using rail, road transport through Europe – and the Danube, Europe’s second longest river, which flows through much of central and southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest to the Black Sea.

Giurgiulesti Port, which has given the tiny landlocked country of Moldova in southeastern Europe its only commercial access to international waters, is now fulfilling a vital second function as part of a solution to regional food security concerns.

“Today, not only does Giurgiulesti port safeguard supply chains for Moldovan importers and exporters, but since the start of the war on Ukraine it has also played a key role in helping to uphold supplies to and from Ukraine,” said Alain Pilloux, the EBRD’s Vice-President, Banking.

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The operator of the port, Danube Logistics, constructed a cargo terminal in 2011, as well as a berth for a grain terminal, a mixed-gauge railway terminal, port infrastructure, a warehouse, storage areas and office buildings.

And it facilitated investments in Giurgiulesti Port by other residents, including a vegetable oil terminal and a sunflower oil extraction plant.

Giurgiulesti’s figures for this year show how helpful the Danube option is, even if all solutions are small compared to the scale of the food security issue.

Overall year-on-year volumes moving through Giurgiulesti International Free Port have more than doubled so far in 2022, reaching 804,029 tons, says the port operator, Danube Logistics.

Likewise, grain and vegetable exports have been at high levels in 2022 – 309,404 tons and 99,694 tons respectively – with grain transhipment and storage facilities increasingly used for grain from Ukraine.

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“While a major objective is exporting cereals from Moldova, Giurgiulesti increasingly tranships grains from Ukraine, contributing to the international effort to avert the food shortages threatened by the war,” said the EBRD’s Head of Office in Moldova, Angela Sax.

A combination of safe management, extra cargoes and more investment look set to further develop and increase the port’s business.

In the midst of the tragedy taking place across the Danube in Ukraine, Giurgiulesti Port is creating a virtuous circle in which, as it supports the imports and exports of Ukraine, it benefits the Moldovan economy at large.

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