Jun 9, 2022 - World

Russia's blockade of Ukraine's grain hits countries around the world

Data: FAO; Table: Jacque Schrag/Axios

The U.S. and Ukraine are accusing Russia of "blackmail" and "exporting starvation" by preventing most Ukrainian agricultural exports through a blockade of Black Sea ports.

Why it matters: Many countries in the developing world are highly reliant on Ukraine's wheat, sunflower oil and other exports. Without them on the market, prices are rising and the global food crisis is getting worse.

By the numbers: Ukraine accounted for 9% of global wheat exports, 15% for maize and 44% for sunflower oil in 2020. Some countries were far more reliant on Ukraine for those products prior to the blockade.

  • Those include some of the world's most populous countries: at least 25% of wheat exports in Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia and Pakistan came from Ukraine.
  • Nearly 30 countries rely on Ukraine for at least 50% of sunflower oil, which has been growing in popularity in countries including China and India.
  • Not only developing countries are affected. Most of Qatar's wheat imports came from Ukraine in 2020, along with most of the U.K.'s rapeseed oil and most maize imported by the Netherlands.

The latest: The UN and Turkey are trying to broker an agreement to allow Ukrainian exports to resume, which would require Russia to lift the blockade and Ukraine to remove mines from its ports.

  • Ukrainian officials say they can't trust Russia not to use the agreement to gain a military advantage.
  • Meanwhile, Ukraine has 30 million tons of grain sitting in silos. That accounts for more than half of the available storage space even before the new harvest begins this summer, per Reuters.
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