According to reports from various international agencies, the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine is beginning to report what was expected and feared, the significant reduction in the supply of grains that is already beginning to affect different countries of the world, especially the European ones.
The specialized bulletin Lex Mare News reports that Ukraine’s grain exports normally represented 10% of the world total, being 50 million tons per year, but this amount as a result of the war and the attacks on Ukrainian ports was reduced by a 90% in the 2 quarter of this year, to reach only 1.3 million tons. For its part, the German DW is even more drastic and titles an article as “War and sanctions cause hunger in the world”, stating that according to UN data, the number of people suffering from hunger in the world will exceed 276 this year to 323 million.
Although it is true that the grain silos in Ukraine are full, there is no way to remove them due to the damage that the main Ukrainian ports have suffered with Russian attacks and bombardments, especially in the main Ukrainian port of Odessa. These attacks happened just two days after an agreement was reached in Istanbul, with the help of the UN and Turkey, in which Russia promised not to attack Ukrainian ports to allow the grain to leave. Thus, neither shipping companies nor international insurers are sure of Russia’s compliance with this agreement. Lex Maris News points out that there are more than 80 ships trapped in Ukraine waiting to leave so that new ships can enter and dislodge the grain.
From our point of view, this Russian reaction to hinder, and almost prevent, the exit of Ukrainian grain to world markets, is a clear response, perhaps not calculated, to the economic sanctions imposed by NATO member countries and others, against the regime of Vladimir Putin.
This situation certainly has an impact on Mexico, the world’s leading importer of corn. And although the largest imports of this grain and others such as wheat come mainly from the United States and Canada, it is not difficult to imagine that the Ukrainian conflict will have a very negative impact on our country if prices of these products begin to escalate world level in the face of the scarcity produced by the existing war situation and of which today we still do not see how, or when, it will end. Large Mexican companies dedicated to the marketing of corn and wheat will undoubtedly be affected, and once again we will enter the spiral that the shortage produces, that is, a rise in product prices, which in the end is reflected in the final consumer.
We live in a globalized economy, no matter how much some people try to deny it, and for Mexico corn is a fundamental staple item on the table of Mexicans, and oddly enough, a war so far from our borders will have repercussions on our economy. , and probably contribute to the continuation of the increase in inflation in our country, which is already worrying today.
You see, dear reader, how maritime transport has an impact on our daily lives, and how little importance we give it, unfortunately.
*Juan Carlos Merodio López-Member is head of the International Martimé Committee.