Over 50 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have committed to supporting Ukraine to export agri-food products.

Ireland was among the signatories of the joint statement of solidarity with Ukraine at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) being held in Geneva, Switzerland.

The signatories also included the UK, European Union and the United States.

The WTO members reiterated their full support for the people of country which was invaded by Russia in February.

“We express our deep sadness at the devastating human losses and profound suffering caused by the aggression against Ukraine,” a statement read.

“The destruction of a significant part of Ukraine’s transportation infrastructure, including roads, bridges, ports and railroads, is substantially impeding Ukraine’s ability to produce, export, and import.

“We are gravely concerned about the consequences of this destruction for Ukraine and for global trade, in particular as regards the supply to international markets of a number of key commodities produced by Ukraine, including agricultural and food products, fertilisers, sunflower oil, and critical minerals.

“We are also deeply concerned by numerous reports of grain being plundered from Ukraine. These actions are at odds with the principles and values of the WTO,” the members added.

WTO support

The statement stressed the need for trade routes, including shipping ports, to remain open, adding that the food security consequences arising from the ongoing war are “dramatic”.

Ukraine is one of the world’s top exporters of key agricultural products and is a major supplier to the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP).

“The impact of the war, including of the blockage of Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea, is seriously jeopardising food supply to some of the most vulnerable parts of the world, in developing countries.

“This risks pushing millions of people into food insecurity, adding to the already severe situation caused by Covid-19,” the WTO members outlined.

They pledged to support Ukraine to facilitate its exports and to encourage other WTO members to do likewise. This would include facilitating the use of infrastructure and simplifying customs procedures.

“Within our capacity, we will look for ways to help Ukrainian farmers to continue planting and growing cereals and oilseeds, much needed for themselves and for the world,” they stated.

The WTO members also pledged to continue to providing humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of Ukrainian civilians and to help rebuild the country “as soon as circumstances permit”.