Transport company filings are preoccupied with grain shipping and Russia’s potential return to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, GlobalData figures show.

In August, “grain” and “Russia” became the two most frequently mentioned keywords in transport company filings, indicating concerns over suspended Black Sea trade and interest of it resuming.

Earlier today (4 September), Turkish President Erdogan flew to Sochi to beseech President Putin to revive the UN- and Turkey-brokered deal. “I know that you intend to raise the issue of the grain deal,” Putin reportedly told Erdogan. “We are open to negotiations on this question”.

A Black Sea armistice?

A renewal of the deal, which the Kremlin says is subject to certain conditions, would see an eventual return to full-scale shipping activity in the Black Sea. Data from Marine Traffic illustrates a significant lull since the deal was halted.

Large shipping companies involved in grain transport, such as Danish shipping group NORDEN, are avoiding trade in the region due to the threat of Russian attacks, even if some ships have successfully set sail from Ukraine. On Friday, two bulkers (Anna-Theresa and Ocean Courtesy) departed the port of Yuzhny unharmed, according to Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov.

Until Putin withdrew Russia on July 17, the initiative allowed 32.9m tonnes of Ukrainian grain to reach pass through the Black Sea and reach global markets, including 725,000 exports to the World Food Programme (WFP). East African countries which rely on these exports have expressed concern over the suspended deal, described as a “beacon of hope” by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres amid the ongoing war and global food crisis.

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China, Spain and Turkey were among the most prominent exporters – and it was Erdogan, held in high regard by Putin, who spearheaded calls for its revitalisation.

Both Turkish and Russian officials said the first day’s talks were conducive, while Moscow reiterated the need for demands to be met. These primarily relate to the softening of sanctions on food and fertiliser exports, as well as reconnecting Russia’s Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT international payments system, which the EU removed it from in June 2022.

The Black Sea has become increasingly militarised since Russia left the initiative, with frequent drone attacks on grain warehouses at Ukrainian ports. Ahead of today’s talks, Moscow launched a 3 ½ hour assault on Izmail, a Danube River port in Ukraine’s Odesa region, as well as an overnight attack on ports near the border of NATO member Romania.

Our signals coverage is powered by GlobalData’s Thematic Engine, which tags millions of data items across six alternative datasets — patents, jobs, deals, company filings, social media mentions and news — to themes, sectors and companies. These signals enhance our predictive capabilities, helping us to identify the most disruptive threats across each of the sectors we cover and the companies best placed to succeed.