World faces biggest energy shock since 1970s: World Bank

The report said the increases in energy prices in the past 2 years have been the largest since the 1973 oil crisis. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Energy prices have surged since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and, along with other commodities, are likely to remain at "historically high" levels through 2024, endangering economic growth, the World Bank warned on Tuesday (Apr 26).

"This amounts to the largest commodity shock we've experienced since the 1970s," said Dr Indermit Gill, the World Bank's vice-president for equitable growth, finance and institutions.

The shock - which is expected to push energy prices up 50 per cent this year - is being aggravated by trade restrictions and rising prices for food, fuel and fertilisers.

"These developments have started to raise the spectre of stagflation," Dr Gill warned in a statement on the World Bank's Commodity Markets Outlook report.

Echoing the call from other officials at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in recent days, he urged governments to "take every opportunity to increase economic growth at home and avoid actions that will bring harm to the global economy".

The report said the increases in energy prices in the past two years have been the largest since the 1973 oil crisis when the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries declared an embargo.

Amid the war and Western sanctions on Moscow, the price of Brent crude is expected to average US$100 a barrel this year, the highest since 2013, the report said.

European natural gas prices are expected to be double what they were last year and - along with coal - hit record levels, it added.

Prices for grain, of which Russia and Ukraine are large producers, and fertilisers have seen the biggest price jumps since 2008, with wheat prices reaching an all-time high this year.

Overall, non-energy commodity prices, including agriculture and metals, are projected to jump 20 per cent this year before easing, but will remain above their five-year average, according to the World Bank.

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