Trade restrictions worsen food crisis: World Bank

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Bans and restrictions on food exports are “counterproductive” to the global food crisis and are driving “domestic prices even higher”, World Bank directors said on Wednesday.

In a blog postWorld Bank Director General for Development Policy and Partnerships, Mari Elka Pangestu, and Chief Operating Officer, Axel van Trotsenburg, have called for “the halting and reversal of export restrictions” to fight against the worsening of the crisis.

The current price spike has been fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain bottlenecks, high energy costs and other global issues, but is exacerbated by the war in Ukraine , one of the world’s leading food suppliers. The conflict not only disrupted production in Ukraine, but also blocked critical Black Sea ports.

Directors compared this year’s crisis with the global food crisis of 2008, during which 36 countries imposed export restrictions. As of June 2022, 34 countries had active restrictions.

Bans imposed since the start of the war in Ukraine have increased the price of rice by more than 12%, wheat by 9% and corn by around 6%, a World Bank report found.

Between mid-2007 and mid-2008the global food crisis caused the price of rice to rise by 180%, wheat by 120% and maize by 70%.

In 2020, Ukraine was the first fifth supplier of wheat, and Russia was the leading exporter of fertilizer.

In early June, UN Secretary General António Guterres gave remarks warning that “without fertilizer, shortages will spread from corn and wheat to all staple crops, including rice, with a devastating impact on billions of people in Asia and South America as well.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has also sounded the alarm over the risk of global famine if Ukraine is unable to export its wheat.

“The war in Ukraine has created unnecessary suffering for the most vulnerable people everywhere,” wrote the World Bank‘s Pangestu and van Trotsenburg in their blog post, calling on countries to lift export restrictions.” misguided”.

“The global community has a duty to cooperate fully to expand the flow of food across the world.”

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