Pakistan pushes for Ukraine grain deal revival

Bilawal speaks to Turkish FM Hakan Fidan, discusses efforts seeking the revival of deal

Kamran Yousaf July 22, 2023
According to the European Commission, Ukraine accounts for 10% of the world wheat market, 15% of the corn market, and 13% of the barley market. PHOTO: REUTERS


Pakistan on Saturday began efforts seeking restoration of an agreement that allowed Ukraine to export grains through sea bypassing the Russian blockade.

Russia pulled out of the deal earlier this week raising fears over global food supplies and scrapping a rare diplomatic breakthrough since Moscow invaded Ukraine. The deal was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations in July last year and was hailed as a major breakthrough.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday that Russia would not renew the pact right now, saying it “has been terminated.” The Ukrainian foreign minister visited Islamabad this week on a maiden trip and requested Pakistan to play its role in reviving the deal.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari agreed to reach out to the UN secretary general and his Turkish and Russian counterparts to ensure the Black sea initiative is revived at the earliest.

Read more: Pakistan, Ukraine deny arms supply deal amid conflict

On Saturday as part of that agreement, Bilawal spoke to Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and discussed efforts seeking revival of the grain export deal.

“Spoke to my brother FM of Turkey @HakanFidan today. Commends Turkey’s role in achieving the landmark Black Sea Grain Corridor agreement in 2022 which has played a significant role in stabilizing global food prices, especially in developing countries and for the poorest of the poor,” Bilawal wrote on Twitter.

He extended Pakistan’s full support to international efforts in reviving the agreement.

The deal allowed Ukraine to export grain by sea, with ships bypassing a Russian blockade of the country’s Black Sea ports and navigating safe passage through the waterway to Turkey’s Bosporus Strait in order to reach global markets.

Vessels were inspected before they arrived in Ukraine by Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish officials, to ensure weapons were not being smuggled into Ukraine.

It proved vital for stabilizing global food prices and bringing relief to the developing countries which rely on Ukrainian exports. The impact of the war on global food markets was immediate and extremely painful, especially because Ukraine is a major supplier of grain to the World Food Programme (WFP).

According to the European Commission, Ukraine accounts for 10% of the world wheat market, 15% of the corn market, and 13% of the barley market. It is also a key global player in the market of sunflower oil.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a UN body, warned at the time that as many as 47 million people could be pushed into “acute food insecurity” because of the war. Official sources said Bilawal is expected to speak to his Russian counterpart and the UN secretary general on the issue.

Pakistan has maintained a delicate balance in its relationship between Russia and Ukraine since the conflict began. But the visit of Ukraine Foreign Minister, first by any since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1993, was seen as an effort by Pakistan to accommodate the West's concerns.

Bilawal, without condemning the Russian invasion, did express deep concerns over the loss of lives due to the Ukraine conflict. He stressed the need for finding a political solution to the problem.


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