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Countries told to 'urgently re-examine' curbs imposed on agricultural trade

The joint statement from heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, World Food Programme, and World Trade Organization comes hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "partial military mobilisation."

September 21, 2022 / 08:14 PM IST
Representative Image (Image: Reuters)

Representative Image (Image: Reuters)

Governments all over the world have been asked to "urgently re-examine" the measures they have taken to restrict agricultural trade, such as export restrictions, to tackle the global food security crisis.

A joint statement issued on September 21 (external link) by the heads of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, World Food Programme, and World Trade Organization said distortions must be minimised and that urgent action was needed.

"Preserving open trade in food, agriculture, and energy can reduce price distortions that dilute incentives for efficient production," the statement said.

"Countries should follow through on commitments made at the WTO's 12th Ministerial Conference to restrain export restrictions on food and fertilisers and put in place trade facilitation measures. We also welcome clarifications of relevant regulations to allow critical agricultural inputs such as fertilisers to move swiftly to countries in need," the statement added.

The joint statement from the multilateral agencies comes hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "partial military mobilisation", adding that the West had engaged in nuclear blackmail. Russia, however, had "lots of weapons to reply" and was not bluffing, Putin further said.

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Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which began in late February, has pushed up global commodity prices. Food prices have spiked in particular as Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of certain items.

"Despite the reprieve in global food prices and the resumption of grain exports from the Black Sea, food remains beyond reach for many due to high prices and weather shocks. The number of people facing acute food insecurity worldwide is expected to continue to rise," the joint statement issued today said.

Earlier this month, India imposed restrictions on the export of rice amid rising domestic prices following lower-than-anticipated Kharif crop output. Data released on September 12 showed India's retail cereal inflation surged to 9.57 percent in August - the highest since January 2014 - as headline retail inflation returned to 7 percent territory.

As per the government's first advance estimates for the Kharif season of 2022-23 crop year, released earlier today, India's rice production is likely to be 6 percent lower this year.

"The World Bank is implementing its $30 billion program to respond to the food security crisis and frontloading resources from the IDA20 Crisis Response Window. The IMF is proposing a new food shock window within the IMF emergency lending instruments," the joint statement also said.
Siddharth Upasani is a Special Correspondent at Moneycontrol. He has been covering the Indian economy, economic data, and monetary and fiscal policies for nine years. He tweets at @SiddharthUbiWan. Contact: siddharth.upasani@nw18.com
first published: Sep 21, 2022 08:14 pm
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