Food prices soar to record levels on Ukraine war disruptions:
A private Ukrainian farmer Dmytro Hnatkevitch harvests wheat crop on his farm in the village of Grygorovka, 110 km south of Kiev, in August, 1996. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Prices for food commodities such as grains and vegetable oils reached their highest levels ever recorded as of last month. This is largely due to the supply disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Food Price Index by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, which calculates the international price for a basket of commodities, rose by 12.6 % from February to average 159.3 points. The FAO has blamed the war ongoing in Ukraine for the 17.1% rise in the price of grain. Together Russia and Ukraine account for roughly 20% of all corn exports and 30% of all wheat exports worldwide. It is currently unknown how much of these increases in price are due to the war and how much is due to other factors such as poor weather conditions in the US and China. Whatever their reason, massive food shortages threaten countries in the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia where people already have too little too eat. The United States, Canada, France, and other large grain producers are working to ramp up production but face increased fuel and fertilizer costs, drought, and supply chain disruptions.
Mexican president poised to win historic, polarizing referendum on his rule:
People hold posters to promote the April 10 recall referendum on the presidency of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, in downtown Mexico City, Mexico March 26, 2022. Picture taken March 26, 2022. REUTERS/Luis Cortes
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is expecting a victory in a referendum on his rule which could fortify his authority for the remainder of his term in office. A popular leftist, Lopez Obrador argues this first of its kind vote he called on himself is needed to validate his democratic mandate. The polls show that the people are largely indifferent to this as 52% view the referendum as unnecessary. Between 18% and 27% of the electorate are expected to take part, below the 40% required to make the vote binding, though Lopez Obrador has signaled his intent to respect the vote regardless of turnout. Prominent politicians amongst his opposition have signaled that they consider the referendum a waste of public funds which is best ignored.
China’s security deal with Solomons raises alarm in Pacific:
The Chinese national flag flies outside the Chinese Embassy in Honiara, Solomon Islands, April 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Charley Piringi, File)
China and the Solomon Islands formed a draft of an agreement last week allowing Chinese warships to stop at the Island for replenishment and to deploy troops to, “assist in maintaining social order.” A base on the islands would put China in striking distance of Australia, New Zealand, and US military bases in Guam. China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson claims the agreement is meant to protect people and property from internal violence in the country and has no military aims. Euan Graham, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies based in Singapore, believes this is part of China developing the logistical capability to support a strong presence in the Pacific as part of their long-game to become the major power in the region. The Solomon Island operation is different from others like the one in Djibouti, which officially exists to fend off piracy, in that China lacks commercial interest in the region meaning that it will likely be smaller in scope. Jonathan Pryke, the director of the Pacific Islands Program at the Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank believes that leaders are overreacting to the agreement as it will be some time before it can actually begin to change things on the ground.