World Insights: Int'l community welcomes Russia-Ukraine grain export deal, expects full implementation

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BEIJING, July 23 (Xinhua) -- Russia and Ukraine separately signed a deal in Istanbul on Friday with Türkiye and the UN to resume grain shipments from Ukrainian ports to international markets via the Black Sea.

The deal, officially called "the Black Sea Grain Initiative," was first signed by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu with his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and later by Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov with the other two sides.

It would allow significant volumes of commercial food and fertilizer exports from three key ports in the Black Sea -- Odessa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny, the UN said in a statement on its website.

A copy of the deal released by Andrii Sybiha, deputy head of the Ukrainian President's Office, showed that the deal will be effective for 120 days and can be renewed for the same duration unless one of the signing parties terminates.

Following the signing of the deal, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for efforts to effectively implement the agreements on transporting Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports and on promoting Russian exports of food and fertilizers.

Given the significant share of Russian and Ukrainian agricultural products in international markets, ensuring uninterrupted shipping meets the pressing objectives of maintaining food security, especially for the developing and least developed countries, Lavrov said.

"The UN assistance that is provided in good faith and the constructive approach of the international community, including the Western countries, will be instrumental in this (implementing the agreements)," he said.

Also on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the deal fully meets Ukraine's interests and will enable Ukraine to export 20 million tons of last year's grain harvest and part of this year's harvest.

The long-awaited deal was welcome news for the international community as a food crisis has already been plaguing countries heavily dependent on grain imports from Ukraine and Russia. Officials worldwide have voiced hope for an early and full implementation of the deal to ease the global grain shortage.

Ukraine and Russia are breadbaskets of the world, producing almost one-third of its wheat and barley and half of its sunflower oil. Russia is also a top global exporter of fertilizers and the raw materials for its production, Guterres' press office said in a note to correspondents.

UN reports revealed that more than 800 million people around the world directly face the possibility of hunger at the moment, and the number could rise.

Following the deal, the price of wheat for delivery in September dropped 5.9 percent to 7.59 U.S. dollars per bushel on Friday in Chicago. Prices in Europe tumbled by a similar amount, media reports showed.

"This apparent agreement is not an indication of a normalization in Ukrainian export flows but certainly a step in the right direction for global food supplies," The Wall Street Journal quoted a recent note by analysts at J. P. Morgan to clients as saying in its article published Friday.

Calling the deal "a beacon of hope," Guterres said the shipment of grain and food stocks into world markets will help bridge the global food supply gap and reduce pressure on high prices.

"This initiative must be fully implemented because the world so desperately needs it to tackle the global food crisis," he said.

Guterres also announced the establishment of a joint coordination center in Istanbul to monitor the implementation of the deal.

Present at the signing ceremony, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the export traffic will be initiated in the coming days, which will open a "pathway for taking fresh air to many countries."

"We are talking about 25 million tonnes of grain," Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters after the ceremony, reckoning as urgent the need for a safe transport corridor to transfer these products by sea.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell described the deal as "a critical step in overcoming the global food insecurity."

Borrell tweeted that the EU "remains committed" to helping with the implementation of the deal.

Meanwhile, White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that the United States fully expects the implementation of the deal "to commence swiftly to prevent the world's most vulnerable people from sliding deeper into food insecurity and malnutrition, as well as extreme hunger." Enditem

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