Maritime trade facing historic moment, UNCTAD alerts
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has alerted that maritime trade is facing a ‘historic moment of crisis due to Ukraine versus Russia war, which has disrupted major shipping routes.
The Secretary-General, UNCTAD, Ms. Rebeca Grynspan, who disclosed this at the Global Maritime Forum’s yearly summit in New York, said the world needs the shipping industry to brave the rough seas of crises.
She said the war in Ukraine has not only disrupted major shipping routes and supply chains but has also triggered global food, energy and finance crises that have sparked record prices and could push tens of millions more people across the world into hunger and poverty this year.
Grynspan said maritime transport has a key role to play in cushioning the blow, since ships carry over 80 per cent of the goods the world trades, including most of the food, energy and fertilizers people desperately need right now.
Grynspan said the price of fertilizer is currently three times higher than the average during the previous decade, which is particularly worrisome since it is the top input cost for many small farmers around the world.
She said if farmers cannot afford or don’t have access to the fertilizers they need, they won’t be able to plant their crops, adding that the world has already lost a sowing season in West Africa because of this crisis.
Grynspan said if the fertilizer market is not stabilised, the whole food supply system could be in trouble.
She noted that globally, a record 345 million people in more than 80 countries are currently facing acute food insecurity, according to the United Nations.
“The food affordability crisis that we are dealing with today may become a food availability crisis next year because of the fertilizer issue if we don’t intervene. We need more ships and bigger ones,” she said.
She called on the maritime industry to redouble its efforts, while also lauding the work already done to help load and transport food and fertilizers from Ukraine under the Black Sea Grain Initiative brokered by the United Nations and Türkiye.
“As of September 12, the Black Sea Grain Initiative had enabled over 2.7 million metric tons of grain and other foodstuffs to move from the Ukrainian ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny (Pivdennyi).
“The UN points out that all the grain coming out of the three Ukrainian ports due to the initiative that benefits people in need, has helped to calm markets and limit food price inflation,” she stated.