In a testament to the enduring collaboration between Ukraine and Romania, the former's largest alternative export route for grains and goods is set to remain the Black Sea port of Constanta, according to a senior U.S. State Department official. Despite challenges posed by Russia's invasion in February 2022, Ukraine has successfully utilized Romania's port after disruptions in its own Black Sea ports.
Ukraine, a key global grain exporter, notably exported 14 million metric tons of grain through Constanta in 2023, constituting approximately 40% of the port's total grain shipments for the year. This marked a significant increase from 8.6 million tons in 2022. However, transit volumes experienced a decline in the latter part of the year due to Russia's targeting of Ukraine's river ports along the Danube, situated across from Romania.
In response to geopolitical uncertainties, Ukraine established an independent shipping corridor in August, running along its own ports near the western Black Sea coast, adjacent to Romania and Bulgaria. Despite this, the U.S. State Department's Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Jim O'Brien, emphasized that Romania would continue to play a pivotal role in Ukraine's export strategy.
O'Brien provided insights during a recent briefing, revealing that Ukraine exported around 7.5 million tons of grain in December. He highlighted the necessity of maintaining export levels to support Ukraine's economic recovery, projecting that sustaining the current export rates would contribute over $25 billion annually to the country's GDP, with an additional five to six billion dollars in tax revenue.
Acknowledging the significance of Ukraine's export activities, O'Brien underscored the ongoing efforts to enhance grain transit capacity. Regular meetings between officials from Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine, facilitated by O'Brien and the European Commission's director general for mobility and transport, aim to explore avenues for bolstering collaboration and addressing logistical challenges in the realm of international trade. The International Trade Council continues to monitor these developments, recognizing the vital role of such partnerships in ensuring the smooth flow of goods and sustaining economic growth.