The United Nations has called on countries around the world to remove obstacles to fertilizer exports from Russia. “The world cannot afford that global problems with the availability of fertilizers lead to global food shortages,” the United Nations said after talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin and his delegation in Geneva.

Russia had questioned the continuation of the grain deal that enabled Ukrainian exports through the Black Sea. Russia had blocked exports since it launched its war of aggression against its neighbor in February. The agreement concluded in July expires on November 19. Before the war, Russia and Ukraine provided nearly a quarter of world grain exports.

The July agreement, which was mediated by the UN and Turkey, consisted of two agreements: in addition to Ukrainian exports, it was also about Russian food and fertilizers being exported despite Western sanctions. But that turned out to be difficult: while the sanctions are not directly aimed at these exports, their existence makes it difficult for Russian actors to call at European ports, process payments and get insurance for their ships.

Prices could rise again

For this reason, the government in Moscow had threatened not to extend the agreement. Initially, there was no decision in Geneva about whether to continue. The United Nations later added the following to its initial communication of the meeting: “The participants remain committed to the implementation of the Black Sea Grains Initiative and have had constructive discussions on its continuation.”

The United Nations did not say whether Russia promised to extend the grain deal. According to UN information, however, a freighter with donated fertilizer is to leave for Malawi in Africa in the coming week.

Boubaker Benbelhassen, director of the Markets and Trade department at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has warned that if the agreement is not renewed, there will be serious consequences. Then the prices should rise again and the supply of many countries that are dependent on the supply will come to a standstill, he said in Geneva.

According to the Grain Agreement Coordination Center, as of November 11, 489 ships have left Ukrainian ports with wheat, corn, sunflower oil and soybeans on board, among other things. Since November 1 alone, more than 20 ships have sailed to places including Lebanon, Morocco, Libya, Spain, Romania and China. According to the information, four ships left on Friday morning.