Ukraine Exports

April 2023

War has highlighted nation’s crucial role

The first anniversary of the war in Ukraine was in February. Before the war, I suspect many people weren’t aware of just how significant a role Ukraine plays in the world’s economy and exports. However, the devastating events that took place are certainly highlighting the impact that it is having and just how important the country is.

Over the last decade, Ukraine has exported roughly half of the world’s sunflower oil. Due to the Russian invasion in February 2022, there was an abrupt global shortage in supply that had a knock-on effect on the price increase for vegetable oil, which was a substitute.

Ukraine is also a top three supplier of grain and corn. In July of last year, The Black Sea grain initiative allowed Ukraine to ship 25mn tonnes of grain and oils to alleviate pressure on global food prices. The UN has confirmed that there is a deal to extend this initiative, but at the time of writing, the length of the extension is still being debated. The initiative has been a lifeline for Ukrainian farmers and traders, as the alternative routes are not as accessible. There have been complaints that Russian inspections are slow and cause delays to the shipping processes, potentially impacting global food security.

Needless to say, the economic impact of this war has been profound. The repercussions, unfortunately, may be felt globally for years. Ukraine and Russia have had the biggest economic impact but the global fallout has seen both: direct and indirect consequences. As we have seen the trading halts have had a direct effect on the supply of global commodities, the indirect effects are the likes of rising inflation and the energy crisis.

The world is a stage for large international companies and whilst many are coming under scrutiny for trading ethics, many are seeking to profit from this. The in-house investment team for my company manages £200m in funds, with world-wide investments, so it is necessary to understand what is happening globally to assess what implications this will have on client portfolios. This is especially important when assessing Ethical funds, as these cannot stray from their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria.

Hopefully, the above gives ‘food for thought’ to how companies like mine with discretionary permissions have to consider different factors when conducting client investments.


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