UN ‘pursuing all efforts’ regarding Russian fertilizer exports

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The United Nations is working to limit sanctions impacting Russia’s exports of ammonia, a key fertilizer ingredient, UN trade negotiator Rebeca Grynspan said Tuesday.

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Moscow has complained its grain and fertilizer exports continue to face issues over sanctions imposed after its invasion of Ukraine, despite two agreements signed on July 22 that call for a lifting of agriculture-related sanctions while granting safe passage to Ukrainian grain exports.

“The UN is pursuing all efforts to allow for a positive outcome on Russian ammonia exports to international markets,” said Grynspan, the secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

According to the Istanbul-based Joint Coordination Centre, 129 ships carrying over 2.8 million tons of grain have left Ukrainian ports since the Turkey and UN-brokered agreement was signed in July.

Those exports have led to a drop in grain prices and alleviated fears of a global food crisis due to the war between Russia and Ukraine -- both major producers of the world’s grain supply.

But Russia has said its own exports of grain and fertilizer continue to be stymied by Western sanctions not directly targeting agricultural products.

“We will continue to try to find a solution precisely to this problem,” Grynspan told a video press conference, adding that “exports have been going out from Russian ports.”

Grynspan said progress had been made thanks to “clarifications” by the United States and the European Union.

The July 22 agreement on Russian shipments, released publicly for the first time on Monday, facilitates the exports of foodstuffs, fertilizers and raw products used to manufacture fertilizers, in particular ammonia.

Ammonia is produced by combining nitrogen from the air with hydrogen derived from natural gas.

Several European fertilizer manufacturers have stopped producing ammonia because of soaring gas prices.

Though Russians have increasingly criticized the agreement, Joint Coordination Centre head Amir Abdulla said he saw “no clear sign” that Moscow would withdraw from the deal before the end of the 120-day deadline.

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