What is the impact of trade embargoes on commodity prices? - Trading Class | Trading Courses | Trading Webinars
  • No products in the cart.

Table of Contents
< Back to All Categories

What is the impact of trade embargoes on commodity prices?

Impact of Trade Embargoes on Commodity Prices

Trade embargoes, which denote a stoppage or hindrance in the exchange of goods or services with another country, possess the significant potential to influence commodity prices globally.

Trade Embargoes and Commodity Markets

Before delving into the direct impact of trade embargoes on commodity prices, it is worthwhile to understand the interface between trade embargoes and commodity markets. The commodity markets primarily focus on the trading of raw or primary products, such as oil, grains, or gold—major economic assets for many countries. As a result, an imposed trade embargo on these countries can drastically affect the supply-demand dynamics of these commodities and, consequently, their prices.

Trade Embargoes and Commodity Pricing

The quintessential effect of a trade embargo is that it cuts off the conduits of supply, causing an imbalance in the market’s supply-demand dynamic, which in turn affects commodity prices. Here are the ways this can happen:

Supply Constraints and Price increases

In essence, trade embargoes restrict the flow of commodities from the exporting country to the market, thus creating a squeeze in supply. This diminished availability can spur prices, especially when the demand for a commodity is high or the market’s supply is already stretched. For instance, an embargo on an oil-exporting country could drive up global oil prices, given that oil is an inelastic and high-demand commodity.

Increase in Alternative Commodity Prices

Trade embargoes can also impact the prices of alternative or substitute commodities. When a commodity of an embargoed country becomes dearer due to supply constraints, it often makes similar or substitute commodities more enticing, thereby increasing their demand and, subsequently, prices. In other words, the impact of an embargo can cascade across the entire commodity market, influencing the prices of seemingly unrelated commodities.

Disruption of Commodity Futures Market

Furthermore, embargoes have a profound influence on the futures market, which is a significant aspect of commodity trading. A futures contract is a standardized agreement to buy or sell a particular commodity at a future date at a pre-established price. Therefore, any change in the commodity’s supply-demand dynamics due to an embargo can severely disrupt the futures market, causing high volatility and unpredictability in commodity prices.

Trickle-down Effects of Trade Embargoes on Commodity Prices

In addition to direct consequences, trade embargoes have several ancillary or trickle-down effects on commodity prices.

Macroeconomic Implications

As a macroeconomic event, a trade embargo can have far-reaching implications for commodity prices. The uncertainty engendered by an embargo often prompts market participants, especially investors, to respond in ways that can impact commodity prices. For example, in periods of geopolitical instability or tension, investors might flock to commodities deemed as ‘safe-haven assets’, such as gold, causing their prices to soar.

Role of Speculation

Trade embargoes often become a playground for speculators who leverage the increased volatility in the commodity market to turn a profit. It’s common to see speculators ‘hoarding’ commodities in anticipation of profits from future price hikes caused by an embargo. This speculative trading can exacerbate the situation, causing excessive fluctuation and inflation in commodity prices.

Intermediate- and Long-term Impact

Finally, it’s pertinent to note that the impacts of embargoes are not usually transient but linger for intermediate to long terms. In the short term, there might be sudden fluctuations in commodity prices due to panic buying or selling. But in the long term, embargoes can alter the entire landscape of commodity trading, influencing consumption patterns and resetting price levels.


In summary, trade embargoes have both immediate and far-reaching impacts on commodity prices. By hindering trade flow, they disrupt the supply-demand dynamics of commodities, causing price hikes. They can also trigger a cascade of price increases in alternative commodities and disrupt the commodity futures market. Ancillary effects include changes in macroeconomic conditions, speculative trading, and long-term consequences on commodity prices and trading patterns. Thus, whether you’re a beginning trader or an advanced investor, understanding the impact of trade embargoes on commodity prices is critical for effective trading and risk management in the commodity market.