IMF says Russia exit from Ukraine grain deal risks adding to global food inflation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday said Russia’s exit from a deal allowing Ukrainian exports via the Black Sea threatens to increase global food insecurity and could drive food prices higher, especially in low-income countries.

An IMF spokesperson said the global lender would continue to carefully monitor ongoing developments in the region and their impact on global food insecurity.

“The discontinuation of the initiative impacts the food supply to countries that rely heavily on shipments from Ukraine, in particular in North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia,” the fund said. “It worsens the food security outlook and risks adding to global food inflation, especially for low-income countries.”

Several Group of 20 members this week condemned Russia’s move to quit the United Nations-brokered Black Sea grain deal on Monday over what it called a failure to meet its demands to implement a parallel agreement easing rules for its own food and fertilizer exports.

The IMF said the Black Sea deal had been instrumental in facilitating food, grain, and fertilizer exports from Ukraine to the rest of the world. Along with the reversal of export bans and higher-than-expected food production in key exporting countries, the deal helped tame pressures on international food prices, the spokesperson noted.

The deal had allowed Ukraine to export around 33 metric tonnes of grain by sea and turned out to be an important factor for global food security, the IMF spokesperson said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Andrea Ricci)