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Black Sea Initiative

The Black Sea Initiative
  The war in Ukraine sent shock waves throughout the global economy, in particular through trade disruptions of food and fertilizers from two of the world’s main breadbaskets, Ukraine and the Russian Federation. This left millions of people in developing and least developed countries at the frontline of a food and price crisis.

The United Nations Secretary-General has established a Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance in the UN Secretariat.

The Group’s work on the food aspect of the global crisis helped lead to the signing of two agreements in July 2022 in Istanbul to address growing global food insecurity around the world.

One is the Memorandum of Understanding between the United Nations and the Russian Federation to facilitate the unimpeded access for their food and fertilizers exports to global markets.

The second is the , signed by the Russian Federation, Türkiye, Ukraine, and witnessed by the UN to allow the safe export of grain, fertilizers and other foodstuff from Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea. These agreements have helped to bring down the cost of food, stabilize global markets and keep them open. However, this progress is fragile and price pressures remain. The continuation and effective implementation of both agreements are vital for global food security. The United Nations remains committed to both agreements and to remove all remaining impediments that constrain access of food and fertilizers from the Russian Federation and Ukraine to global markets.  
  The Black Sea Initiative is one example of concrete action to navigate some of the worst cost-of-living crises the world has faced in a generation. The Initiative has managed to steer trade in the right direction to provide more accessible and affordable food for all. The Initiative has yielded results that need to be scaled up. Its renewal provides hope that the world’s most vulnerable can make it through the crises.

Delivering food to the world

 
as of 17 May 2023
+32,900,000
tonnes of grain were exported under the Initiative
  Developing countries have benefitted the most from the Initiative, supporting food security among the most vulnerable.     Wheat and corn are among the world’s most used food staples. Many developing and least developed countries rely on these grains to provide affordable food for their populations. Under the Initiative, exports of these vital grains from Ukraine were able to resume, reaching global markets. Exports of wheat have gone predominantly to developing countries and least developed countries, representing 64 per cent of total wheat cargo.      

Gaps still to be closed

The Initiative accounted for 60 per cent of total Ukrainian export volumes of corn, wheat and barley during the first four months of its operation. However, exports for the period January–November 2022 were 22% below 2021 levels.     The Initiative accounted for 60 per cent of total Ukrainian export volumes of corn, wheat and barley during the first four months of its operation. However, exports for the period January–November 2022 were 22% below 2021 levels. Notably, for every tonne of wheat shipped from Ukraine to developing countries in 2022, there is a gap of two tonnes. The gap of 11.8 million tonnes is equivalent to the annual wheat food consumption of 175 million people, roughly the population of Bangladesh.1 For corn and barley, the export gap is as large as 41 per cent and 82 per cent, respectively, of the previous year’s level.    

Food prices have come down from record levels but remain high

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that food prices are almost 20 per cent lower than their all-time high in March 2022, following the start of the war in Ukraine. This downward trend in prices was supported by the efforts of the Black Sea Initiative. However, price levels are still high when compared to pre-war and pre-pandemic levels. Food prices in April 2023 were 41 per cent above the average over the past two decades. Furthermore, concerns persist for the stability of future food prices, which may be undermined by climatic factors, risk of market disruptions, export restrictions, high energy costs, and weakening global demand for food.  
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