Nations ban export of food and necessary items, move disrupts supply chain and trade flows

The ongoing global crisis sparked by the pandemic outbreak of coronavirus, has pushed the nations towards practising food nationalism. Nations all across the world have started banning the exports of necessary food items, disrupting supply chains and trade flows.

Kazakhstan, one of the world’s biggest exporters of wheat flour, has banned the exports of the product along with few others items, including carrots, sugar and potatoes. Serbia also joined the league by stopping the supply of its sunflower oil and other goods. China, the biggest rice grower and consumer, would be purchasing more from its domestic harvest, even though the government already holds huge stock of rice and wheat, enough for a year’s consumption. Russia, though haven’t put a ban on its exports, put has shown likeliness towards halting its shipment to other nation if the situation demands. Russian authorities are assessing the situation on weekly basis.

On the other hand, the nations importing goods from other nations like Algeria and Turkey, who import wheat, have also issued new tenders, while Morocco has removed duties on wheat imports till mid-June.

The global lockdown has sparked hoarding mentality among the people despite the governments’ assurances about abundant supplies. The panic buying is going to impact the supply chain, making it harder to get the goods where they are needed the most. And it is just the beginning of the economic ramifications of the corona crisis.

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

The stockpiling of necessary goods is going to give way to another crisis – global hunger. The anxious purchasing by governments and people could lead to increase of basic commodities which would eventually lead to unrest and political instability.

“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,” said Benton of Chatham House.

He added, “If you’re panic buying on the market for next year’s harvest, then prices will go up, and as prices go up, policy makers will panic more.” It is a never ending cycle unless which has the potential of bring in chaos in the societies.

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

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