African leaders want embargo exemptions for wheat, fertilizer imports from Russia

By James Tasamba


KIGALI, Rwanda (AA): West African leaders on Tuesday demanded exemptions from a ban on wheat and fertilizer imports from Russia, whose supply chains were interrupted following its war on Ukraine.

Speaking at the 8th edition of the Africa CEO Forum in Ivory Coast’s economic capital Abidjan, Senegal’s President and African Union chairman Macky Sall, said exemptions to the financial sanctions against Moscow applied by European countries to continue energy trade with Moscow should also apply to Africa’s imports.

“We are a collateral victim of this situation because of the weaknesses of our economies,” Sall said, speaking alongside his counterpart Mohamed Bazoum of Niger.

Last month, European Union leaders agreed to block most Russian oil imports by the end of 2022 to punish Moscow for invading Ukraine, but the ban affects oil that arrives by sea, not pipeline oil, after opposition from Hungary.

Sanctions on Russian gas exports to the EU were delayed, although plans to open a new gas pipeline from Russia to Germany were frozen.

Pointing to “double standards” Sall stressed that African economies are suffering because of the crisis in Ukraine.

Earlier, Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara expressed concern over the rising inflation and risk of shortages of several products such as wheat in Africa due to the Russia-Ukraine war.

“We are concerned, to say the least, by the slowdown in global growth and the availability for Africa of certain products such as wheat, fertilizers and of course by the inflationary push,” he said.

Ouattara praised the resilience of African economies in the face of the ongoing global economic shocks.

The two-day economic summit, which closed on Tuesday, drew about 1,500 business leaders and political decision makers in Abidjan.

It was held around the theme “Sovereignty, green growth and industrial transformation: the new routes to African prosperity.”

The Ivorian leader noted that the inflationary situation is pushing governments and companies to reevaluate their dependence on international networks.

It is really a challenge to globalization and the notion of world trade, he said.

The war in Ukraine has compounded the problem of food insecurity around the world.

Russia and Ukraine together account for 30% of the global wheat trade.

The war has disrupted wheat exports, driving wheat prices up by 60% in Africa, the African Development Bank (AfDB) said in April, warning that there may be a fertilizer crisis with about a 2 million metric ton deficit.

Ouattara meanwhile stressed the role the private sector must play in Africa’s development through, in particular, the production and local processing of basic necessities.

He said his country’s vision is to build mutual interest between the public and private sectors to create jobs for youth and for the growth of economies.

The Africa CEO Forum returned after two years of interruption due to COVID-19.

The event is co-hosted by Jeune Afrique Media Group and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

[Photo: Senegalese President Macky Sall (L), Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum (C) and Tiemoko Meyliet Kone (R), Vice President of Ivory Coast attend the Presidential Panel of Africa CEO Forum in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on June 14, 2022. Photograph from :Africa CEO Forum/AA]

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