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Hope for Restoration of Grain Shipments from Ukraine

07/23/2023

The U. S. has invited Tang Renjian, Minister of Agriculture of the People's Republic of China, to the August 3rd meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

 

This would provide an opportunity for ministers of agriculture to interact with their counterparts to address pressing issues.  The most important is withdrawal by the Russian Federation from the Black Sea Grain Initiative followed by deliberate bombardment of the three major export ports, Odesa, Chonomorsk and Uchny over a five-day period.  Damage to export installations is extensive according to the Ministry of Agriculture for Ukraine. Even if the BSGI is resuscitated, shipments will be restricted.  In addition, Russia has threatened to regard any vessels sailing to the ports as “hostile” subject to attack and has allegedly mined the approaches to the major ports.

 

Although Russia claims that cancellation of the BSGI was in retribution to an attack on the Kerch Causeway, the reality is that international sanctions have created financial problems for the Russian Federation.

The entire world will suffer if corn, wheat and oil seeds from Ukraine, fail to reach markets. China would be especially impacted as it is a major purchaser of wheat from both Ukraine and Russia.

 

If Russia attacks merchant vessels in international waters of the Black Sea, NATO may intervene to create free passage from the area east of the three ports where convoys can assemble southward to the Bosphorus.  A clash between naval vessels of NATO and the Russian Federation would certainly broaden the conflict with serious implications for peace in Europe. Given the current situation of the belligerence, Russia is in no position to embark on a major continental war.

 

Since the United Nations arose from meetings in San Francisco in 1945, it is hoped that a gathering of APEC members, 78 years later would still carry the same spirit of international cooperation. The task of participants will be to resolve a major issue that will impact the price of agricultural commodities and influence the standard of nutrition in both industrialized and developing nations.