Russia, Türkiye, and Qatar are laying the groundwork for a trilateral deal on grain exports, the German publication Bild reported on Wednesday. The move comes after Moscow withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative last July 17.
As Moscow had informed Ankara in advance of its decision to withdraw, the two nations and Qatar are seeking a new agreement. Recent developments suggest that the three countries could formalize the deal in the coming weekend in Budapest. Türkiye President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is visiting the Hungarian capital, while Rustam Minnikhanov, the leader of Russia’s Tatarstan Republic, is already in the city.
Türkiye and the United Nations (UN) acted as the mediator for the Black Sea Grain Initiative. As the deal’s collapse could leave a void in the global food market, the new literal agreement is being prepared as its replacement.
The new accord will see Russia focusing its supplies on poorer countries, especially African nations. Meanwhile, Qatar will shoulder the supply sponsorship, and Türkiye will be in charge of organizing the deal.
For this Russia-Türkiye-Qatar deal on grain exports, the Turkish government will operate “under the auspices of the United Nations (UN).” This statement is from an official correspondence between Türkiye and Russia’s foreign affairs authorities.
In the letter, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan also urged the Russian government to reconsider its decision to exit from the Black Sea grain deal. This is so that grains can be imported from Ukraine as well.
Old Black Sea deal
In February 2022, Russia’s military operations blocked key ports on the Black Sea, affecting Ukraine’s export supply chain. With grain supplies trapped within Ukraine, food prices surged, and fears of a worldwide food crisis ensued.
The previous initiative, signed in Istanbul on July 22 of the same year, allowed the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports safely through the Black Sea.
With said deal, Ukraine was able to export again via ports in the Odesa region. Recent figures show that the country exported over 32 million tons of grain and other foods in the past year.
Ukraine and Russia are important global food suppliers. Together, they make up 29 percent of wheat exports and 80 percent of sunflower exports worldwide.
Middle Eastern and North African nations are particularly dependent on Ukraine’s wheat and corn supplies.
According to 2021 data from the Observatory of Economic Complexity, Ukraine’s top wheat importers include Egypt (with $851 mn worth of imports), Pakistan ($594 mn), and Ethiopia ($440 mn). Meanwhile, Egypt ($522 mn) and Iran ($438 mn) are among the top five importers of Ukraine’s corn.
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