NEW YORK, NEW YORK, US — The Black Sea Grain Initiative, which was scheduled to expire on Nov. 19, has been extended 120 days. The agreement, originally put in place in July, creates a protected sea lane through the Black Sea to facilitate the export of agricultural commodities from Ukraine.

“I welcome the agreement by all parties to continue the Black Sea Grain Initiative to facilitate the safe navigation of export of grain, foodstuffs and fertilizers from Ukraine,” said Antonio Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations. “The United Nations is fully committed to supporting the joint coordination center so that this vital supply line continues to function smoothly.

“The United Nations is also fully committed to removing the remaining obstacles to exporting food and fertilizers from the Russian Federation. Both agreements signed in Istanbul three months ago are essential to bring down the prices of food and fertilizer and avoid a global food crisis. The Black Sea Grain Initiative continues to demonstrate the importance of discreet diplomacy in the context of finding multilateral solutions.”

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 and initiated a blockade of the country's Black Sea ports. The Black Sea Grain Initiative was was brokered by Turkey and the UN and signed by Russia and Ukraine in late July, easing global food shortage concerns. Russia and Ukraine combine for about 30% of the world's wheat exports. Ukraine also is a major exporter of corn and the largest sunflower oil exporter, while Russia is the world's top exporter of fertilizer and wheat.

Russia withdrew from the agreement on Oct. 29 and sent global wheat futures higher. Commodity markets around the world calmed after Nov. 2 when Russia re-entered the agreement. Talks had been ongoing to extend the deal, which has moved more than 9 million tonnes of grain and other food exports in the past three months.