Yellen to convene high-level panel on food security crisis on Tuesday By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on “the State of the International Financial System,” on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, April 6, 2022. REUTERS / Tom Brenner

By Andrea Shalal and David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will convene a high-level panel on Tuesday to discuss the global response to an ongoing food security crisis exacerbated by Russia’s war against Ukraine, the Treasury Department said in a statement.

The meeting will include the heads of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, as well as ministers representing the G7 and G20 countries and technical experts from international financial institutions, it said on Monday.

The meeting will address “the urgent response to the ongoing global food security crisis exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” and call on international financial institutions to “accelerate and deepen their response,” Treasury said.

Russia says it is engaged in a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

“Secretary Yellen is deeply concerned about impacts that Russia’s reckless war is having on the global economy, including the risk of rising food insecurity in emerging markets and developing countries around the world, which are still struggling to recover from the pandemic,” a senior Treasury official said.

The crisis was hitting emerging market and developing countries that were still struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic particularly hard, the official noted.

A second senior Treasury official said Treasury had no specific aid target in mind for the meeting, noting that officials were still analyzing the extent of the problem.

Yellen first announced plans for the meeting last week, noting that over 275 million people worldwide were facing acute food insecurity.

The World Bank, IMF, UN World Food Program and World Trade Organization have also called for urgent, coordinated action on food security, and appealed to countries to avoid banning food or fertilizer exports.

They said the crisis was compounded by a sharp increase in the cost of, a key ingredient of nitrogenous fertilizer, which could threaten food production in many countries.

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control this week will reiterate its commitment to allow the free flow of agricultural goods, including humanitarian aid to the Russian people, despite sweeping sanctions imposed on Russia, a senior official said.

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