KYIV – Ukraine hopes to grow export capacity by 50% in the next few months by expanding facilities on its western border, but it will still be far short of pre-war levels, the deputy infrastructure minister said on Friday.
More than ten seaports carried 75% of Ukraine’s foreign trade, but they were closed after the Russian invasion and the country was forced to trade through small Danube river ports and use railway terminals on its western border.
“Western borders and Danube ports today is the only way to export and import. We have already quadrupled the volume of trade through the Danube ports,” Yuri Vaskov told a news conference.
He said 3.5 million tonnes of cargo was transported across the western borders by rail alone last month and the national railway operators are developing border terminals for general and liquid cargoes, as well as for reloading from wide to narrow gauge and vice versa.
“All this should lead to the fact that the capacity of the western border should increase by 50% in the next few months,” Vaskov said.
“But even taking this into account, this (larger capacity) will not be enough even to serve at least half of the volumes that were transported through seaports in peacetime,” he said.
Ukraine, a major global grain grower and exporter, has sharply reduced its grain exports since start of the Russian invasion to around 1 million tonnes in April from up to 6 million tonnes before the war.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Toby Chopra)