Bullit Marquez/AP
Workers repack imported rice to be sold to poor residents at a government warehouse at
Manila's Quezon city, Philippines, Wednesday April 16,
2008. (AP)

Food Shortages Exacerbated by Hoarding, Trade Barriers

July 02, 2008 11:23 AM
by Denis Cummings
Many countries have restricted food exports, leaving citizens impoverished and import-heavy countries struggling to procure food.

30-Second Summary

According to a report in The New York Times, at least 28 countries have restricted or banned the export of rice or wheat in response to a worldwide food shortage. The restrictions have created an increase in food prices, which were already high due to the food shortage and high oil prices.

“It’s obvious that these export restrictions fuel the fire of price increases,” says World Trade Organization director general Pascal Lamy.

For many, the export restrictions represent a larger problem of international food trade. Many countries have strict trade barriers on food that make it difficult for countries to secure what they need.

In early June, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization held an emergency summit in Rome to discuss the food crisis. Many countries called for reductions in trade barriers and biofuel subsidies, but small groups of countries objected. In the end, the summit produced a watered-down and virtually meaningless declaration.

The issues will be discussed again on July 21, as part of the Doha round talks on trade barriers. Japan and Switzerland, both nations that rely on food imports, have petitioned the World Trade Organization to prohibit large-scale restrictions on food exports, but it may be too late to include that specific issue on the agenda.

Headline Link: Many countries restricting food exports

Background: Global food shortage

Opinion & Analysis: How does trade affect food shortages?

Related Topics: Biofuels and food waste


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