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First Crop Ship to Leave Ukraine Is Stuck Without a Buyer

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The first crop cargo to depart Ukraine’s newly opened grain ports is now floating in the Mediterranean Sea, searching for a new destination after losing its buyer.

Ukraine’s embassy in Beirut on Monday posted a picture of the vessel Razoni and said the cargo has been rejected by its final buyer in Lebanon, due to a five-month delay in its delivery. It was the first agriculture ship to leave the country’s major Black Sea ports since Russia’s invasion, loaded with about 26,500 tons of corn after a deal was recently brokered to restart exports.

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The tumult in its journey to find a customer highlights the challenges that lie ahead for Ukrainian grain shipments to return to normal as the war persists. The Razoni’s shipper is looking for a new buyer in Lebanon or elsewhere, according to the embassy. Its destination changed Sunday from Tripoli to “order,” ship-tracking data shows.

Read More: Column: We Can’t Fix Inflation Without Saving Ukraine

A spokeswoman at Lebanon’s economy ministry said the government isn’t involved with the shipment, as the cargo was bound for the private sector. There’s also no interference from the United Nations — which helped broker the grain-export agreement—on where vessels departing Ukraine head, as those are commercial decisions, a spokesman for its secretary-general said at a briefing Monday.

Meanwhile, a smaller corn vessel from Ukraine reached its final destination in Turkey on Monday, marking the first such ship to reach its terminus, Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said. Two others that left in the same caravan should reach their ports in about a week. About 10 vessels have departed so far in total.

With assistance from Volodymyr Verbyany, Omar Tamo and Áine Quinn.

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