WTO joins call for action to tackle global food security crisis

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A new joint report has urged immediate action to facilitate trade in order to relieve the current food security crisis.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has joined forces with other international bodies to highlight the growing global food security crisis and call for urgent action to be taken to alleviate the situation.

It noted that trade will have a key role to play in tackling the disruption - not just when it comes to facilitating the global supply of food itself, but also in providing essential goods for the production of food, including fuel, fertilizer and agricultural equipment.

In a joint statement, the heads of the WTO, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank Group (WBG) and World Food Programme (WFP) noted there have been several factors that have contributed to the current crisis, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, disruptions to international supply chains and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

As a result, the WFP estimated that as of July 2022, a total of 345 million people across 82 countries are defined as 'food poor', meaning their short-term access to food has been restricted to the point that lives and livelihoods are at risk.

What's more, higher food prices have led 25 countries to adopt new restrictions on the export of these goods, accounting for around eight percent of global food trade. At the same time, wholesale costs for fertilizer have doubled over the past 12 months, so global stockpiles need to be released in order to bring prices back down.

The organizations stated: "Facilitating trade and improving the functioning and resilience of global markets for food and agriculture, including cereals, fertilizers, and other agriculture production inputs are key."

They also called for the removal of export restrictions, as well as more flexible approaches to inspections and licensing processes in order to minimize supply disruptions.

"Increasing transparency through notifications to the WTO and improving the monitoring of trade measures will be critical," the statement added.