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The WTO affirms countries applied restrictions on food and the effect on consumers worldwide was almost immediate

The WTO affirms countries applied restrictions on food and the effect on consumers worldwide was almost immediate

The World Trade Organization (WTO) today issued a statement reporting the impact of the war between Russia and Ukraine on food and fertilizer prices.

The WTO note responds to a follow-up by trade policy observers from July 13 to November 22, 2022, currently published only in English.

The document indicates that immediately after the outbreak of the Russian war in Ukraine, various restrictions on the export of wheat, barley, sugar and seeds from Ukraine and the Russian Federation were implemented.

Together, Ukraine and the Russian Federation are the top exporters of food and agricultural products and ranked in 2021 among the top exporters of wheat, corn, rapeseed, sunflower seeds and sunflower oil, it explains.

In addition, that the Russian Federation is one of the main suppliers of fertilizers.

The information contained in the note, entitled “A year of turbulence in the food and fertilizer markets”is based on research conducted by the WTO Secretariat in the context of WTO trade monitoring reports circulated on July 13 and November 22, 2022, including trade measures, submitted or verified by members and WTO observers, and continuous monitoring of trade policy trends.

trade restrictions

The note indicates that the fear of a serious internal shortage of basic foods seems to have pushed other countries to also introduce restrictions on the export of these products or their close substitutes.

“The effect of these restrictions on food markets and consumers globally was almost immediate. This affected consumers around the world, but especially those in developing and least-developed countries in Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia,” she says.

The WTO Trade Watch data suggests that regardless of the existing restrictions on the export of food, feed and fertilizers before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, there was a notable increase after 24 February 2022.

From the start of the war to February 28, 2023, 96 export restrictions on basic agricultural products were identified, applied by 29 WTO members and six observers. Of these, 88 were applied to food and feed and eight were specifically targeted at fertilizer exports.

In addition, over the past 12 months, some 28 measures have been removed, bringing the total number of measures currently applied to 68 (63 on food and five on fertilizers) by 27 WTO members and five observers.

Export restrictions currently in place cover approximately US$85 billion of total world exports.

The WTO specifies that trade restrictions to protect internal markets in the context of the multiple interconnected crises derived from the decrease in agricultural yields due to the adverse effects of climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic, the increase in costs of energy and inflation, as well as a persistent and growing food crisis.


As of February 28, 2023, the WTO Trade Surveillance has identified 71 measures that facilitate imports of food, feed and fertilizers, including 63 specifically on food/feed, seven combined on food/feed and fertilizer, and one exclusively on fertilizers.

These measures were introduced by 62 WTO members and two observers. Twenty-five of these measures were removed, bringing the total number of measures currently applied to 46 (39 on food/feed, six on food/feed and fertilizer, one purely on fertilizer), imposed by 59 WTO members and two observers.

The import measures included the reduction and/or elimination of import tariffs and other duties, as well as the elimination of import quotas. He says that like the scope of the export restrictions, the import facilitation measures focused on various agricultural products, including wheat, rice, flour, edible oils, cereals and meats.

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