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May 16, 2023

Chart of the Week: Russia and Ukraine’s wheat exports

by Fathom Consulting.

Russia is forecast to be the world’s largest exporter of wheat in 2023/24 for the fourth year in a row, with exports increasing by 1 million tons to a record 45.5 million, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Exact numbers are uncertain as the war in Ukraine has made it difficult to estimate exports across the Black Sea. Many countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East are reliant on wheat from Russia and Ukraine. Western countries have not imposed sanctions on Russia’s grain trade. However, the sanctions imposed on Russian banks, companies and individuals have made payment arrangements and shipping more difficult, hindering trade. This is partly why wheat exports dropped in 2021/22 to their lowest level since 2016/17. Now exports are increasing again, after the US and UK made clear in November 2022 that sanctions were not intended to target the agricultural sector and issued licenses so that banks, insurers and the shipping sector could facilitate Russian food exports. This was done to ensure food security amidst the global food crisis. Now Russia has requested that Western countries go further, including re-adding the Russian Agricultural Bank to the SWIFT worldwide system for financial transactions, as a precondition for Russia to sign the extension of the UN Black Sea grain corridor, which ensures safe passage of Ukrainian exports of grain and fertilisers to the rest of the world from three Ukrainian ports. The current agreement expires on 18 May.

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The views expressed in this article are the views of the author, not necessarily those of Refinitiv Lipper or LSEG.

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