Conflict affecting markets, food security - WTO

Global food prices have fallen steadily
calendar icon 19 July 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

The war in Ukraine sent "shockwaves through commodity and energy markets", the new report says – with projections indicating that around 23 million more people will be undernourished in 2030 than if the conflict had not occurred, according to a news report from the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Other drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition include climate extremes, economic slowdowns and downturns, and growing inequality, the agencies say.

FAO data released on 7 July showed that global food prices have fallen steadily, after hitting a record peak in March 2022 following the outbreak of the war. Domestic price inflation has nonetheless continued to impede access to food in many developing countries, with adverse exchange rate trends and debt also aggravating existing challenges.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, which was first brokered in July 2022 by the UN and Türkiye, has played a key role in easing upward price pressures – allowing more than 32 million tonnes of food commodities to be exported since its inception.

However, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told a press briefing that his efforts to extend the agreement beyond a 17 July deadline for renewal had been unsuccessful.

"I share UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s deep regret and disappointment," WTO DG Okonjo-Iweala's statement said. "Global food security should not become a casualty of war".

The DG noted that people in poor countries are set to be hit hardest by the termination of the initiative, and urged all parties to make every effort to come back to the negotiating table.

In addition to its direct effects on trade, conflict is also continuing to disrupt farm output in the region. The monthly Market Monitor, produced by the Agriculture Market Information System, notes that the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam in early June is set to affect crops reliant on irrigation networks in particular.

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