A cargo of wheat, in a rare import from Poland, has not been unloaded at the port of Houston due to ” contamination”. The developments at the port of Houston have raised concerns about a possible increase in US-EU trade tensions.
Tension is escalating after the US halted a shipment of rare Polish wheat destined for unloading at the Port of Houston, potentially straining trade relations with the European Union (EU), as reported by Bloomberg, among others.
The bulk carrier Yochow (IMO No. 9728394; year of construction 2015; GT 21,538; deadweight capacity 34,398t) was bringing about 30,000 tonnes of Polish wheat to the US but was prevented from unloading at the port of Houston, where it was to deliver the cargo. The action is based on allegations of corn contamination, which was said to have been confirmed by ‘sources familiar with the matter’.
European Union figures show that two wheat shipments were sent from Poland to the US in July. The first was about 29,000 tonnes and the second 33,000 tonnes.
Yochow loaded the wheat from 9-13 July at the Gdansk Bulk Terminal (GBT) at Bytomski Quay. The bulk carrier arrived in Houston, in the US state of Texas, on 6 August and moored at berth CS16 in the North Side Turning Basin area until 9 August, when it was, without unloading, back into the anchorage off the Galveston roadstead, where it remains today (updated – Sunday, 13 August 2023).
The move to block the unloading of Polish wheat from the handy-size bulk carrier Yochow threatens to disrupt the trade flow. It raises concerns about potential trade tensions between the United States and the European Union. The situation comes against the backdrop of a recent increase in local wheat prices in the US due to drought, forcing the country to consider European imports to meet wheat demand.
US agriculture faces challenges to its dominance in the global market, with countries like Russia becoming powerful competitors in the wheat trade. The withholding of Polish wheat shipments further aggravates the situation for US farmers, as it could result in repercussions hitting them (e.g. restrictions on US crop imports).
US sources said that if the shipment of Polish wheat was eventually rejected (withdrawn), trade relations with the European Union could be strained. In the past, the US had criticised countries for implementing non-tariff barriers to trade when US shipments were denied entry to certain markets.
For now (until Sunday), US Customs and Border Protection has yet to make an official statement.