The U.S. has invited Chinese and Russian officials to a key food security meeting amid the fallout from Russia leaving the Black Sea grain deal, the Biden administration confirmed.
Key U.S. and Chinese officials may have a chance to sit down in person and discuss the fallout from Russia’s withdrawal from a key global food security deal next month.
The U.S. has invited China’s agriculture minister, Tang Renjian, to the 2023 APEC food security ministerial meeting, which takes place in Seattle on Aug. 3, the Biden administration confirmed. Russia’s decision to blow up the Black Sea Grain Initiative is expected to be front and center at the meeting of major economies across Asia and North America. Western officials have been hoping Beijing, a key ally of Moscow, can help persuade the Kremlin to rejoin the deal since China has been the top destination of the grain shipments from Ukraine under the agreement. If Tang attends, it would give U.S. officials a chance to make their case in person. The U.S. has also invited Russia to the meeting, since it is a member of APEC.
U.S., European and Chinese officials have publicly called for Moscow to extend the agreement, which has provided key food supplies to poor populations across Africa and the Middle East, while helping to stabilize skyrocketing food prices. But since pulling out from the deal, Moscow has ramped up its missile attacks on key Ukrainian Black Sea ports and threatened to attack any commercial ship en route to the region — heightening the risk of conflict in the key trade route and sending global wheat prices sharply upward. The spike in grain prices and sudden supply loss are sure to hurt Beijing. China received roughly 25 percent of Ukraine’s grain shipments under the deal, according to the U.N.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. did not respond to an inquiry about the invitation and whether Tang plans to travel to Seattle for the gathering.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be in attendance.
The ministerial on food security is part of the buildup to November’s APEC summit, which the United States is hosting in San Francisco and is expected to draw leaders from APEC’s 22 member countries. Among them are China and Russia, as well as Canada, Mexico, Japan, South Korea and other countries throughout Asia and the Western Hemisphere.
In addition to the Aug. 3 event, there are a number of other ministerial level meetings in the run-up to the summit that top Chinese officials could attend. Those include an Aug. 6 session focused on health concerns led by Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and an Aug. 15 gathering led by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm
Russia’s decision to abandon the Black Sea deal granting safe passage to ships exporting Ukrainian grain has shaken global grain markets, impacting all the major APEC member countries. In the wake of that decision, Moscow began bombing Ukraine’s most prominent Black Sea port in Odesa, and threatened to target foreign cargo ships traveling to Ukraine’s ports, as well. But the Kremlin hasn’t ruled out rejoining the deal if it secures more concessions, including an agreement to readmit Russia’s government-run agricultural bank to the global financial payments system known as SWIFT.
Moscow has also demanded restarting a key Russian ammonia pipeline in Ukrainian territory. Ukrainian officials strongly oppose the move. Some on Capitol Hill have also expressed concerns that such a move would provide Moscow with a new cash infusion. U.N. and Turkish officials have been working to try to revive the deal. At the same time, U.S. and Western officials are scrambling to find new ways to increase grain and other key commodity exports from Ukraine, including via already expanded overland routes, according to one U.S. official, who was granted anonymity to discuss private conversations.
Source : Politico