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Foro Global sobre Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición • Foro FSN

Re: The 11th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11) and its significance for food security in Africa

Annah Mutinda
Annah MutindaMinistry of Agriculture Livestock and FisheriesKenya

In your opinion, do export restrictions enhance or undermine food security in African countries? Should the WTO disciplines on export restrictions be stricter or allow greater flexibility?

Export restrictions, in the long run, generally have a negative impact on food security even in the producing country. When governments impose export restrictions, it limits market access for the producers. this in most cases leads to lower prices at the domestic level and can subsequently lead to reduced investment in production. This ultimately leads to reduced food availability and also accessibility. If these policies are implemented upharzardly, they lead to uncertainity and consequently instability in both availability and accessibility to food. For the importing countries the impact of export restriction is that there is continued inadequate availability of the food stuffs which tends to keep the prices high. Thus such a policy seriously undermines both the availability and accessibility pillars of food security in the importing country. Export restrictions can contribute to promoting informal cross-border trade. Due to the relatively higher prices in the importing country, traders in the country with export restrictions sell their wares to traders in the importing country without passing through the formal channels.

WTO disciplines on export restrictions should be stricter so as not to unnecessarily distort trade. Any country intending to impose export restrictions should seek permission from thr WTO and present satisfactory reasons as to why it intends to impose the export restriction.