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20 July 2021 | Press Release 09/2021

With great power comes great responsibility: The EU and the Black Sea Region take leadership of the global wheat market

IAMO Policy Brief 41 highlights the growing responsibility of the EU and the Black Sea Region for ensuring global food security.

Global wheat trade is on the rise. Over the last 20 years, imports have grown by 53 percent to reach 179 million tons. This development has largely been driven by rising incomes and growing populations in Asia and Africa. In IAMO Policy Brief 41, IAMO researchers Osama Ahmed, Thomas Glauben, Maximilian Heigermoser and Sören Prehn look at current developments in global wheat trade and discuss the new role of the EU and the Black Sea Region as leading wheat exporters.

At present, countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are among the largest importers of grain. In 2020/2021, Egypt became the world’s largest wheat importer while Algeria and Morocco ranked fourth and eighth, respectively. Historically, MENA countries import wheat from the US. However, in recent years, exporters in the EU and the Black Sea Region, such as Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, have considerably increased their presence on the MENA wheat market.

In addition, the Euronext wheat futures market is becoming more important for international wheat price discovery. Indeed, since 2015, the US futures markets have begun to increasingly react to changes on the Euronext (MATIF), instead of the other way around.

The authors note that the US has lost its leadership role on the global wheat market to the EU and the Black Sea Region, which must now take greater responsibility for ensuring global food security and fighting hunger and malnutrition.

To achieve this, the authors recommend greater international cooperation between the big Western and Eastern economic powers and warn of escalating economic sanctions and countersanctions. Market interventions can damage trade relationships and hurt import-dependent developing countries. According to IAMO director Thomas Glauben, “It goes without saying that international trade relationships not only promote economic well-being but also help alleviate international conflicts. For one country to believe that it can impose its interests and ideals on another by breaking trade relationships is simply naïve.”

IAMO Policy Brief 41 With great power comes great responsibility: The EU and the Black Sea Region take leadership of the global wheat market is available in German, English and Russian.

IAMO Policy Briefs

IAMO conducts research on important agricultural policies. In our IAMO Policy Briefs we share our take on the researched issues. In this series of publications, we elaborate briefly and in comprehensive language on various topics, which are relevant for today's society. We hope to involve the interested public in these topics as well as decision makers in politics, the economy and the media. Since 2011, we publish IAMO Policy Briefs at irregular intervals. An overview of all IAMO Policy Briefs is available here:

About IAMO

The Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO) analyses economic, social and political processes of change in the agricultural and food sector, and in rural areas. The geographic focus covers the enlarging EU, transition regions of Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe, as well as Central and Eastern Asia. IAMO works to enhance the understanding of institutional, structural and technological changes. Moreover, IAMO studies the resulting impacts on the agricultural and food sector as well as the living conditions of rural populations. The outcomes of our work are used to derive and analyse strategies and options for enterprises, agricultural markets and politics. Since its founding in 1994, IAMO has been part of the Leibniz Association, a German community of independent research institutes.

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