The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) fears that the agri-food crisis unleashed by the war in Ukraine will worsen in 2023 due to the reduction in exports from India and other countries, it told MEPs from the Agriculture Commission of the European Parliament the Chief Economist of the FAO, Máximo Torero.
The economist, who spoke in the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture, pointed out that by 2021 there were already millions of people suffering from nutritional insecurity in the world, a situation that has been aggravated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Although the impact of this conflict has already begun to be seen in world agri-food markets, Torero explained that the increase in agri-food exports by the European Union (EU) and India this year has “compensated a little” for the lack of food and other products, which mainly affects countries in Africa, and the rise in prices.
However, if the conflict continues and restrictions on exports by India and other countries are added, they could “worse” the situation, a problem that would be visible in 2023, he said.
“There is a lot of uncertainty for the next year, so it is essential to support the cultivation and export capacity of agriculture in Ukraine, giving support to the most vulnerable, avoiding export restrictions that can make prices even more expensive and damage confidence in markets and measures that exacerbate food insecurity,” he said.
Also, he pointed out, it is necessary to analyze “ways to compensate for the gaps looking for increases in production where possible,” said Torero.
In this context, he considered it important that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increase the financing mechanisms dedicated to the most vulnerable countries to prevent the costs of their import accounts from increasing.
In the Committee on Agriculture, two representatives of the Ukrainian Parliament also intervened, asking the EU to put into action as soon as possible the plans to facilitate the exit of agri-food exports from Ukraine, given the blockade of the country’s ports.
On May 12, the European Commission (EC) proposed measures to help Ukraine speed up the export of its agricultural products in the face of the blockade of the Black Sea after the invasion of Russia, and thus facilitate the “urgent” exit of 20 million tons of cereal to the EU and the rest of the world.
Precisely, the International Trade Committee of the EP approved this Tuesday by an accelerated procedure the suspension for one year of EU import duties on Ukrainian products for one year to support the country’s economy.
The draft text of the International Trade Commission, which was approved by 38 votes in favor, 1 against and 3 abstentions, is scheduled to be submitted next Thursday to the plenary session of the European Parliament, and once ratified it will enter into force on the day following its publication in the Official Journal of the EU.
“With these unprecedented trade liberalization measures, we are committed to helping Ukraine maintain its trading position with the rest of the world,” said the text’s rapporteur, Sandra Kalniete, MEP.
Ukraine is one of the five largest grain exporters in the world.