The UN’s top trade official visits Moscow for talks on grain deal

closeup photography of brown wheats

The Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Rebeca Grynspan, held talks with Russian officials in Moscow on Monday with a view to facilitating ‘unimpeded access’ to global markets for Russian and Ukrainian grain and fertilizer, Reuters reported. The organization’s aid chief, Martin Griffiths, also attended the meetings virtually, the news agency said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has severely undermined global food security by disrupting both countries’ grain and fertilizer exports. Prior to the conflict, the two states’ food exports accounted for almost 12% of calories traded worldwide – while Russia’s sales of nitrogenous, potassic, and mixed fertilizers accounted, respectively, for 13%, 16%, and 15% of the global markets for those products.

UN representatives said the purpose of Monday’s talks was to encourage Russia to return to the Black Sea grain deal, under which Moscow committed to ensuring that commercial food and fertilizer exports could safely leave the Ukrainian ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Pivdennyi (formerly known as Yuzhny) via an agreed maritime corridor.

Russia withdrew from the initiative in July, protesting that its agricultural exports are being obstructed by Western sanctions and that not enough grain was reaching the poorest countries.

Moscow has not given any indication that it intends to return to the grain deal. In fact, according to Tass, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, on Monday dismissed the initiative as a ‘commercial project’ designed primarily to benefit US grain companies.

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