Indian wheat export halt strands several Asian importers

Today's headlines: Shanghai Covid contagions decrease but restrictions remain; North Korea's Covid emergency continues. Exodus of workers from Laos to Thailand; Saudi Arabia aims to produce 13 million barrels of oil; Turkey works on Central Asian NATO; Ukraine criticises Vatican position on war with Russia.


After Delhi's decision to stop exporting wheat to cover domestic needs, several Asian nations are desperately looking for new suppliers. Indian wheat was supposed to partly compensate for Ukrainian and Russian wheat, unavailable due to the war. The countries most in difficulty are Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal and Turkey.


For a third consecutive day, no cases of Covid-19 have been recorded outside the quarantined quarters of Shanghai. However, the restrictive measures in the Chinese megacity remain in place until at least 1 June Meanwhile in Beijing, the authorities continue to tighten restrictions. The various lockdowns in the country are having a strong impact on the national economy.


The spread of Covid-19 among North Koreans seems to be slowing down. Today there are about 270,000 official cases of infection, compared to almost 383,000 yesterday; 819,000 people have been hospitalised. The authorities continue to speak of a 'fever', without mentioning the coronavirus. The country has no adequate health facilities and has never started the vaccination campaign.


Workers employed during the pandemic in Laotian special economic zones are moving en masse to Thailand, where they can find higher earnings. The exodus began with the reopening of the borders between the two countries, which had been closed for the past two years due to the Covid-19 emergency.


By early 2027 at the latest, Riyadh will increase daily oil production to 13 million barrels from the current 12 million. The world's largest crude producer aims to improve its extraction performance by restoring the exploitation of some fields shared with Kuwait.


Turkey is taking steps to form its own military alliance, the 'Grand Turkic Army'. Istanbul has started to draw Kazakhstan into its orbit, considered the bridgehead for Turkish expansion in Central Asia in confrontation with Russia, Iran and China. The new alliance would coordinate with NATO, of which Turkey is a member.


The Ukrainian ambassador to the Holy See, Andrey Jurash, commented on on Pope Francis' statements on the war in Ukraine. According to him, they correspond to "a conscious approach to conflicts that tries not to take anyone's side and do everything to promote peace", considering this position "illusory and idealistic, and that it does not produce results".