Agricultural Export Restrictions, Food Security and the WTO

ICTSD
2014 unpublished
Export restrictions have been known to exacerbate food insecurity in an environment of rapid and unanticipated food price increases, even though they are not the main contributor to food insecurity amongst the poor in the developing world. Agricultural export restrictions remain 'under-regulated' in the Uruguay Round agreement, with current provisions being weak and largely ignored. It was not until the severe food price spike of 2007-08 that concerns about export restrictions gained visibility
more » ... in on-going multilateral negotiations. Given that food price hikes are plausible in the future, it would be useful to have in place an improved, multilaterally-agreed regulatory framework to reduce the negative effects of export restrictions on food security. However, despite the widely-shared concern that has emerged in recent years on the need to introduce more stringent WTO disciplines on export restrictions, so far no agreement has been reached. This paper is based on a longer study 1 by Professor Giovanni Anania, focusing on export restrictions in agriculture as an emergency measure in reaction to soaring international prices, and on the negotiations to ensure their judicious use. The aim is to contribute to the on-going debate on the introduction of more effective, multilaterally agreed and enforced rules on export restrictions to avoid the additional problems they impose on poor consumers worldwide in the event of a dramatic price surge. Benefits and Costs of Export Restrictions Food security concerns often cause countries to restrict exports as a means of arresting price rises, or to cap their increase by limiting the transmission to domestic prices of an out-of-ordinary inflationary pressure in the international markets. Other expected effects for countries deciding to restricts their exports include reducing price volatility in domestic markets, securing fiscal revenue, the "infant industry protection argument" where a country protects its domestic industries by restricting exports of raw materials, counteracting importer tariff escalation practices, limiting the overexploitation of the domestic environment, protecting endangered species and controlling the trade of weapons and dangerous materials/substances.
doi:10.22004/ag.econ.320189 fatcat:4qzog2lc4bed3hfi74lasbcr3m