United Nations chiefs held talks with Russian officials on Friday over the Black Sea deals on the export of grain and fertilizer, eight days before one of the deals expired.
The discussions took place behind closed doors at the headquarters of the United Nations Palace in Geneva and ended in the middle of the afternoon.
“Discussions updated the progress made to facilitate the unhindered export of food and fertilizers, including ammonia, from the Russian Federation to world markets,” a UN statement said. .
The meeting between the head of UN humanitarian aid, Martin Griffiths, the head of the UN agency for trade and development, Rebeca Grynspan, and a Russian delegation led by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Vershinin also focused on “the measures taken to facilitate payments, maritime insurance and access to EU ports for cereals and fertilizers”. .”
“The world cannot afford to let global fertilizer accessibility issues become a global food shortage,” the statement said.
The UN also managed to release a shipment of 20,000 tons of fertilizer in the Netherlands, blocked in the Dutch port of Rotterdam due to EU sanctions imposed on certain people and goods.
The cargo will head to Malawi in the coming days under the auspices of the United Nations World Food Programme, according to the Dutch Foreign Ministry.
“The fertilizer in question was frozen because a sanctioned person is involved with the Russian company that owns it,” he said, without naming the person or company involved.
“The decision to release the fertilizer was taken on the understanding that the UN would ensure that it was delivered to the agreed location (Malawi) and that the Russian company and the sanctioned individual would gain nothing from the transaction” , said The Hague.
10.2 million tonnes exported
Two agreements brokered by the UN and Turkey were signed on 22 July.
The first was to allow the export of war-blocked Ukrainian grain from Russia into the country, while the second was to export Russian food and fertilizer despite Western sanctions imposed on Moscow following its invasion.
The 120-day Black Sea Grains Initiative expires on November 19 and the United Nations is seeking to renew it for one year.
Moscow, however, has yet to say whether it will agree to this.
She complains that the second agreement exempting her fertilizers from sanctions, which must run for three years, is not being respected.
“The UN calls on all actors to expedite the removal of all remaining obstacles to the export and transport of fertilizers to the countries that need it most,” the UN spokesperson added.
Ukraine is one of the world’s leading grain producers and the Russian invasion had blocked 20 million tonnes of grain in its ports until the safe passage agreement was reached.
By Thursday, 10.2 million tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs had been exported from Ukraine under the deal, allaying fears of a worsening global food security crisis.
“Very serious” consequences
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said the implications could be of serious concern for global food security if the deal is not renewed.
“We see it as an important initiative that has improved food availability,” said Boubaker Ben Belhassen, director of FAO’s markets and trade division.
“However, if we were in a scenario that nobody wants to see, that there is a termination of the agreement, I think the situation could be really difficult and the implications could be very serious,” he said. told reporters via video link from Rome. , where FAO is based.
He highlighted in particular global food security, prices, availability and staple foods.
Ben Belhassen said that in the short term, prices would rise, especially for wheat, corn and sunflower seed oil, while grain availability on the world market would decline.
This could have a significant impact on countries that depend on imports from the Black Sea, especially in the Middle East and North Africa.
Ben Belhassen also warned of the impact in Ukraine if the agreements are not renewed.
The grain deal has so far allowed Ukraine to release stocks from the last winter harvest, easing pressure on storage capacities, he said.
It has also given farmers in the war-torn country a source of income, enabling them to make decisions on future investments and plant the next crop, he added.