Romania's government will approve on Friday a plan to upgrade road infrastructure in the Black Sea port of Constanta, part of wider investments in the port which could help more Ukrainian grain to transit.
Constanta is Ukraine's largest alternative export route, with grains arriving by road, rail or barge on the Danube.
Ukraine is one of the world's biggest grain exporters and Romanian government officials have said they aimed to double the monthly transit capacity of Ukrainian grain to Constanta to 4 million tonnes in the coming months.
The government has upgraded dozens of railroad lines connecting it to Ukraine, and works are under way on the Danube to enable more barges to pass, including by hiring more pilots and making navigation possible at night.
In Constanta Port, the transport ministry will use European Union funds to repair or reinforce existing infrastructure, build new roads, access ramps and roundabouts, as well as launch a digitized traffic management system, the draft project showed.
"This is clear proof Romania is making serious efforts to support Ukraine by enabling grain transit, but also to interconnect the region," Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu told a government meeting.
Works in the port, which will cost 721.3 million lei ($155.67 million), are estimated to take 36 months.
Since July, when Moscow abandoned a deal that lifted a de facto Russian blockade of Ukraine's Black Sea ports, it has repeatedly struck Ukrainian river ports that lie across the Danube from Romania.
Ukraine shipped 8.1 million tonnes of grain through the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta in the first seven months.
Exports through the port could increase to 35 million metric tons per season if certain changes are made to operations, the head of the Ukrainian grain traders union UGA said.
($1 = 4.6336 lei)
(Reuters - Reporting by Luiza Ilie, editing by Angus MacSwan)