`Some Countries Impose Restrictions on Exports of Food Commodities


Some Countries Impose Restrictions on Exports of Food Commodities

Mar. 27, 2020
Costas Vasilopoulos

Recent News

In the wake of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, some coun­tries have imposed a ban on exports of raw mate­ri­als and pri­mary com­modi­ties, threat­en­ing the pro­duc­tion of essen­tial food prod­ucts in other depen­dent coun­tries.

Bloomberg busi­ness news agency reported that Viet­nam, the third-largest exporter of rice in the world, put all new export con­tracts on hold, while Kaza­khstan has cur­rently banned its out­go­ing freights of wheat flour, pota­toes, sugar and car­rots.

Ser­bia ceased exports of sun­flower oil and is also con­sid­er­ing putting a curb on more prod­ucts, whereas Rus­sia, one of the world’s largest gra­naries, is plan­ning a post­pone­ment of its ship­ments abroad.

We’re start­ing to see this hap­pen­ing already — and all we can see is that the lock­down is going to get worse,” Tim Ben­ton, research direc­tor in emerg­ing risks at Chatham House think tank in Lon­don, said.

If gov­ern­ments are not work­ing col­lec­tively and coop­er­a­tively to ensure there is a global sup­ply, if they’re just putting their nations first, you can end up in a sit­u­a­tion where things get worse.”


Ann Berg, a vet­eran agri­cul­tural trader and inde­pen­dent con­sul­tant, warned that the extreme mea­sures enforced world­wide by gov­ern­ments could spillover to food pol­icy.

You could see wartime rationing, price con­trols and domes­tic stock­pil­ing,” Berg told Bloomberg.

The news agency nev­er­the­less noted that there are no sure signs” of a generic ban on exports from coun­tries, although the cur­rent freeze of ship­ments of impor­tant raw mate­ri­als could spark a wave of food nation­al­ism’ hold­ing back global trade.

Other coun­tries have started stock­ing up on pri­mary food com­modi­ties. China pledged to buy huge quan­ti­ties of rice from its own crop to increase its already ample stocks, and impor­tant wheat importers like Alge­ria and Turkey have issued ten­ders to buy more.

Indus­try experts stressed that, con­trary to past times of food infla­tion, sta­ple crops like corn, wheat, rice and soy­beans exist in abun­dance and nations have no rea­son to resort to food hoard­ing prac­tices.

They also called for actions in tan­dem and coop­er­a­tion of nations amid the coro­n­avirus global cri­sis.

Given the prob­lem that we are fac­ing now, it’s not the moment to put these types of poli­cies into place,” Max­imo Torero, chief econ­o­mist at the UN’s Food and Agri­cul­ture Orga­ni­za­tion, said. On the con­trary, it’s the moment to coop­er­ate and coor­di­nate.”

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