In his remarks to the meeting, the Director-General pointed out that deep shocks to supply and demand along with tightened border controls and travel restrictions have dealt a serious blow to international trade, not least the food and agriculture sector. Despite the currently abundant stocks of key staples, he warned that “we must avoid measures that could change the current outlook and lead to supply shortages in the future”.
He stressed the importance of ensuring that food continues to flow from countries with a food surplus to countries in deficit, underlining that “three billion people depend on international trade for their food security”.
DG Azevêdo said that G20 leaders and trade ministers have highlighted the importance of keeping international markets open for vital medical products and food and stressed that any COVID-related trade measures should be “targeted, proportionate, temporary, and transparent”. He referred to the WTO's monitoring of such measures and urged G20 governments to “lead by example on transparency”.
The Director-General ended his remarks by calling for enhanced cooperation to ensure that “international markets continue to be seen as a reliable source of food supply”. “The COVID-19 health crisis is already a major economic and social crisis. Let’s not add a food security crisis.”
The text of the declaration can be found here.
The G20 Extraordinary Virtual G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting was organized by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which currently holds the group’s rotating presidency.
More on the WTO’s response to the COVID-19 crisis is available here.