COVID-19 Food Security Trade Policy at Work

The Threat of Export Restrictions on Food Security in the Context of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is currently shaking our whole world. Governments are under pressure to take action quickly. But they should not succumb to panic as their decisions are not without consequences and the surge in raising trade barriers through export restrictions in March 2020 was not without effect on the food security of many developing countries. Indeed, those countries were already feeling the socio-economic effects of the pandemic and the greater difficulty in importing basic food commodities only added to their challenges. It is not the first time that the world faces a threat of global food insecurity. In 2007, the Global Food Price Crisis also triggered a burst in export restrictions which led to a rising price of foodstuffs. Now, twenty years after the beginning of the Doha Round, the issue of export restrictions is back in discussions of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This Note aims to present an overview of these topics and the potential consequences on the food security of millions of people. It also offers some recommendations for the times to come.