Australia has joined 57 other countries in pledging to support Ukraine’s exports and help its farmers plant and grow grain, following the collapse of the economy and exports of the European nation after the invasion of Russia.
A statement from the group reiterated its support and solidarity with the people of Ukraine and expressed its “serious concern” about the consequences of the destruction of Ukraine and global supply chains, including key commodities such as wheat, corn, barley and sunflower oil.
“We underscore the importance of maintaining open and predictable markets, and Ukraine’s ability to trade,” the statement said.
“The food security impacts are dramatic for those directly affected in Ukraine, but are not limited only to Ukraine and its citizens.
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“The impact of the war, including the blocking of Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea, is seriously compromising food supplies in some of the world’s most vulnerable regions.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended global wheat exports, with more than a third typically passing through the Black Sea region to which the Kremlin is trying to cut off access by seizing major Ukrainian port cities .
“We stress the need to ensure that trade routes, especially sea routes and ports, are not blocked by the threat of the use of force,” the joint statement said.
“In this context, we will seek to support Ukraine and facilitate its exports. In this context, we will look for ways to help Ukrainian farmers continue to plant and grow grains and oilseeds, which they so desperately need and which the world needs.
Trade Minister Don Farrell is representing Australia at the 12th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference.
The 164-member body is seeking agreements to keep markets open, not to restrict exports and a binding decision not to limit deliveries to the World Food Programme.
The new Minister of Trade has placed agricultural trade at the center of his first official trip abroad in his role in Geneva.
Senator Farrell said conflicts and unilateral actions by countries pose a threat to the stability of global trade.
“This conference is an opportunity for the WTO to play a role in demonstrating that international rules matter,” said Senator Farrell in his opening statement.
“The Australian government thinks trade has been a big catalyst.
“Trade has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and built and maintained relationships between countries.
“But we must not take for granted the benefits of trade and the global system that enables it.”
Although Senator Farrell did not refer directly to China in his opening speech, Australia and its allies have continually expressed their commitment to freedom of navigation in the disputed region of the South China Sea. .
Australia relies heavily on trade routes through the South China Sea, which was the scene of a conflict between a Chinese jet and an RAAF aircraft during a surveillance mission a little more ago of a week.
Australia also chairs the Cairns Group, a coalition of 19 countries responsible for over 25% of global agricultural exports.
Senator Farrell chaired a meeting of group ministers where the coalition agreed to champion agricultural reform at the WTO.
“In the midst of the worst food security crisis in decades, agriculture remains the most protected and distorted sector in the world,” said Senator Farrell.
“More transparent and predictable trade flows are essential to ensure access to food and essential agricultural products.”
The ministerial conference runs until June 15.