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What will 2024 hold for global trade?

Каква ще бъде 2024 за световната търговия?

With a host of factors pushing commodity prices in 2023 to some of the lowest in a decade, markets are now in a "subduing" period, according to international analysts commenting on the topic to World Grain.

"We've had three incredible years of prices and volatility and some have profited from that, but now we need a breather," said Stephen Nicholson, executive vice president and global sector strategist for grains and oilseeds at Rabobank.

“That's the way markets work. I just don't think we have many alternatives left to be honest. That's why I call the current situation - depression."

While 2023 was marked by significant declines in commodity prices, 2024 will not see the same trend continue, said Tanner Emke, grains and oilseeds economist for CoBank.

"There will be pressure on commodity prices, but we won't see that kind of decline," he said. "You have some underlying indicators that will make a stronger case for commodity prices next year."

The drop in 2023 was one of the biggest drops since 2013-14, following the 2012 drought, but the reasons for the drop this time are different, Nicholson says. Most notably Russia, which had a near-record wheat crop this year, following last year's record crop.

"And they just keep selling to the world market," Nicholson said. "The two big buyers, China and India, are more than willing to buy this produce, and cheaply. That kind of sets the bar in the wheat market.”

"In terms of corn and soybean markets, a record crop in Brazil and a decent crop in the United States have restored global stocks, which has calmed any concerns in the market," he commented.

There are logistical problems around the world, from low water levels on the Mississippi River and in the Panama Canal to political unrest in the Black and Red Sea regions.

"This translates back into lower prices as any price increase is absorbed by insurance or transport costs," Nicholson said.

Cash flow is also a contributing factor, he said, noting that money has "flowed out of commodities" and "flowed back" into stocks and bonds.

Nicholson predicts a relatively static pattern for now, but that will depend on several factors, including South American production, particularly Brazil's corn and soybean harvests.

"Wheat has the biggest upside for me, corn is at the bottom, and soybeans could go either way depending on how that demand holds up going forward," Nicholson concluded.

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