Increasing food protectionism worries importing countries

10 June 20222 min reading

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has severely affected food production, sending prices soaring worldwide. It has also triggered protectionism of food products in many countries.

The global supply shortage has already contributed to a spark in wheat prices, which rose 40% between February and April 2022.  As global food prices hit record highs, more countries are resorting to protectionism to safeguard their own supplies. The economic instability and food insecurity triggered by the invasion have so far pushed 22 nations to impose 41 restrictions or prohibitions on exports of wheat, maize, and other staples.

Seven countries make up 86% of wheat exports, while three countries hold 68% of the world’s wheat reserves. Russia and Ukraine supplied about 30% of the world's wheat and barley before the war. Thirty-six countries, including some of the world's most vulnerable and impoverished, relied on them for more than half of their wheat imports.

Russia either banned or limited sugar, grain, and edible oil exports, while Kazakhstan also moved to bar the exports of wheat and flour until June 15. China, the world's second largest economy, has also introduced protectionist policies. The country, which had previously banned the export of phosphate fertilizers, started increasing its food stocks, especially grains.

With the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, Argentina decided to stop exports of soybean oil and soybean pulp. Hungary stopped exports of grain; Algeria edible oil, sugar, and wheat; Egypt legumes, peanuts, peas, and beans; Cameroon rice, maize, and corn; and India wheat. Ghana and Uganda are among several African countries banning the export of grains and other farm produce.

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