The Russia-Ukraine war has triggered the use of export restrictions on essential food supplies by some WTO members prompting food insecurity and rising food prices
The conflict in Ukraine has caused a global economic and humanitarian catastrophe. The global catastrophe encompasses human suffering, loss of lives, global food price increases, food shortages and food insecurity mainly in poor countries. This war is happening at a time when the world is just emerging from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also ravaged the global economy. Food shortages are predominantly affecting countries that are dependent on Ukraine and Russia for imports of key food staples; in addition, shortages of fertilizer will impact their food production.
Some members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) who are major exporters of staple foods and fertilizer have resorted to export restrictions, as a result of market uncertainties triggered by the war. These WTO members are opposed to an export restrictions outcome that seeks to introduce stringent notification requirements on grounds that they need additional flexibility to take appropriate measures in the current context of food shortages and volatile prices. The WTO rules allow countries to impose export restrictions as a temporary measure under certain circumstances. These will be further explained in the paper.
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