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EXPORT restrictions imposed by governments are exacerbating price rises and global food insecurity, according to a new report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.

Food Security: the impact of export restrictions notes the surge in world grain prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the inability of grain-laden vessels to sail from Black Sea ports has cut the supply of grain on world markets.  

The report also highlights poor growing conditions in major exporting countries and the impacts of COVID-19 as factors contributing to current grain prices, and consequentially, a food security crisis.

“In response to rising grain prices, some governments have introduced export restrictions in an attempt to ease domestic food prices,” an overview of the report said.

“The 2007-08 global food crisis demonstrated that widespread export restrictions are detrimental to global food security and provide questionable benefits to domestic food price stability.”

ABARES executive director Jared Greenville said there are lessons to be learned from the food crisis in 2007 and 2008.

“Often when there is an increase in world food prices, governments respond by placing export restrictions on their own commodities.”

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Dr Greenville said the aim of the restrictions is to moderate domestic prices and ease the burden on the governments’ own populations, which he said is “understandable in the circumstances”.

“However, export restrictions reduce the supply of food in world markets and increase prices, creating greater incentives for other countries to restrict exports.

“For this reason, widespread export restrictions have a negative impact on global food security and hurt the poorest people who are already struggling to put food on the table.”

Dr Greenville said around 24 countries have introduced export restrictions so far, and the use of such restrictions is becoming more common.

“Removing export restrictions, or agreements to avoid implementing them in the first place, can help to ensure food is more available globally and increase the stability of food supplies,” Dr Greenville said.

“Short-term humanitarian aid, market transparency and cutting trade barriers all help to alleviate the stresses of global food insecurity.

“And having free and open trade through multiple trading relationships gives households options that help limit the risk of food insecurity.”

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