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Russia's war in Ukraine to blame for rising global food insecurity - Yellen

Economy Apr 19, 2022 08:18PM ET
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© Reuters. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen answers questions about the current and future state of the U.S. and global economy at the Atlantic Council in Washington, U.S., April 13, 2022. REUTERS/Leah Millis

By Andrea Shalal and David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Russia's war in Ukraine is to blame for exacerbating "already dire" world food insecurity, with price and supply shocks adding to global inflationary pressures, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Tuesday.

Even before the war, over 800 million people - or 10% of the global population - were suffering from chronic food insecurity, Yellen said, and estimates showed higher food prices alone could push at least 10 million more people into poverty.

Yellen told a high-level panel countries should avoid export bans that could further boost prices, while stepping up support for vulnerable populations and smallholder farmers, a message underscored by German Finance Minister Christian Lindner.

"I want to be clear: Russia’s actions are responsible for this," Yellen said, adding that the United States was working urgently with partners and allies to "help mitigate the effects of Russia’s reckless war on the world’s most vulnerable."

Russia calls its Feb. 24 invasion a "special military operation" to "denazify" Ukraine.

Lindner, speaking on behalf of Group of Seven advanced economies, said targeted and coordinated action was needed, but called on all countries to "keep agricultural markets open, not stockpile and not withhold stocks, and not impose unjustified export restrictions on agricultural products or nutrients."

He said the G7, currently led by Germany, had committed to work with international financial institutions and like-minded government organizations to "act in an agile manner."

The Treasury said participants agreed to work on an "action plan" to frame the problem, outline joint principles for a coordinated response and map out short- and long-term actions.

Yellen underscored Washington's commitment to authorizing essential humanitarian aid and ensuring the availability of food and agricultural commodities to benefit people around the world, even as it continued escalating its sanctions and other economic measures against Russia.

She said it was also critical to strengthen longer-term resilience, and called on international financial institutions to help mitigate the global fertilizer shortage and smooth supply chain disruptions for food and critical supplies.

She said they could increase investments in agricultural capacity and resilience to boost domestic food production.

It was also critical to bring in additional sources of financing, including from the private sector, the Treasury said.

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati told participants that food security would be a key issue in the first session of a meeting of finance officials from the G20, currently headed by Indonesia, warning that food and energy price spikes could "create huge political and social unrest."

Several participants called on the global community to look at existing tools such as the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, which was created by the G20 in response to the 2008 food price crisis.

World Bank President David Malpass told a separate event later that advanced economies should boost food aid to developing countries, and work to increase production of food, energy and fertilizer.

He said cash payments or vouchers would be a good way to help farmers in poor countries buy fertilizer to ensure continued food production.

IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said the food security crisis was piling further pressure on the 60% of low-income countries at or near debt distress, and urged China and private-sector creditors to "urgently step up their participation" in the G20 common framework for debt treatment.

"We know hunger is the world's greatest solvable problem," she said. "And a looming crisis is the time to act decisively."

Russia's war in Ukraine to blame for rising global food insecurity - Yellen
 

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Comments (4)
Ken Roth
Ken Roth Apr 20, 2022 12:12AM ET
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Russia is the only one to blame for any fortcomming hungerproblems if any country cannot understand this they need to invest in education of their people. Also countries that support Russia instead of making sanctions are also to blame because they prolong the war. Remember it is Russia who has started a war and invaded another country to US, Europe or the UK we are only trying to help ukraine defending their right to live
Ken Roth
Ken Roth Apr 20, 2022 12:04AM ET
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Do not make this a political accusation on Biden who has actually managed to unite the world in a common cause to stop russian invasion. Europe are now increasing their Defense budget above the required 2% of bnp. Europe are also buying more LNG from US giving us more profits + US are regaining their world leader power unlike the catastrophic presidency of trump who europe laughed at and nobody respected.
Elezabeth Thomas
Elezabeth Thomas Apr 19, 2022 5:48PM ET
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Yellen cannot ignore the Biden administrations errors in all of this. From the beginning we knew they were going to push the highest run away spending programs ever: 3 trillion, 5 trillion, 1.5 trillion, 10 billion; always covid or war or some dather to ensure America pays the highest taxes, hyper-inflation, food shortages, fuel shortages, lax rule of law, escalating criminal behavior. The sanctions, the rate hikes, the global directives; these are smoke screens. The Biden administration must go. The sooner, the better.
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Apr 19, 2022 5:48PM ET
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ignorant comment. your only agenda is to blame Biden for everything wrong in this world
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Apr 19, 2022 5:48PM ET
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I see the troll factory workers are up early today churning out their hate, lies and ignorance
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Apr 19, 2022 5:48PM ET
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lol, how many profiles do you have on here, spouting the same drivel
Carrascal Eduardo
Edouard Apr 19, 2022 12:28PM ET
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The poorest and the civilian population suffer the tremendous consequences. Nato's insatiable ambition to expand is one of the primary reasons for the current crisis, followed by Russia's intransigence and the absence of serious negotiations in the current conflict by all the intervening leaders. Too much arrogance and intransigence. We haven't even begun to see the dire consequences of this war, but we've seen all the other wars since World War II.
Alan Rice
Alan Rice Apr 19, 2022 12:28PM ET
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(Ostriches got this figured out).
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Apr 19, 2022 12:28PM ET
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you are right Eduardo, nato need not expand anymore, and russias insane aggression brings only ruin and misery
 
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