Trade helps to feed one person in six on this planet. The WTO is therefore contributing to the responses to the current food crisis that are being provided by all the international organizations. I will not list these organizations here; they form part of the Crisis Response Group led by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

We contribute on four fronts:

1/ Keeping markets transparent. We monitor and regularly report on measures that restrict or facilitate trade in food products. To help maintain this transparency, it is vital that all our Members notify their measures in real time.

2/ Ensuring markets remain open. At our recent Ministerial meeting, our Members reaffirmed the WTO disciplines and undertook to minimize, wherever possible, the use of restrictive measures by maintaining a proportionate and temporary approach. So, how are we doing?

In quantitative terms, we see a downward trend. Following a peak of 74 export restrictions, applied by 32 countries at the start of the war, some 20 measures have been lifted: 54 measures are now being applied by 28 countries. Facilitation measures have increased: 62 measures are being applied by 37 countries (23 if counting regional groups).

In qualitative terms, there are two areas of concern: a risk of the normalization of recourse to restrictions, beyond their use strictly as a response to the emergency situation, to meet economic stability objectives; and a tendency to expand the scope of restrictions, which initially focused on grains and oilseeds but now increasingly affect meat and dairy products.

Lastly, I must mention the particular issue of fertilizer, the movement of which must be facilitated in order to prepare for upcoming harvests. The WTO and FAO are working together on this matter.

3/ Participation in efforts to show solidarity with the most vulnerable countries. At our most recent Ministerial meeting, our Members made the decision not to impose export restrictions on World Food Programme purchases. They also decided to launch a work programme on the needs of net food-importing developing countries and LDCs.

4/ Advancing the reform of trade-distorting agricultural policies. Our twelfth Ministerial meeting was a missed opportunity. Work in this area must resume as quickly as possible and take into account the new challenges facing agriculture, in particular food security and environmental and climate sustainability. Our Members have begun to reflect on this.

In our view, the initial results of this action taken by the WTO, in conjunction with other international organizations, have not been negligible and will have helped to alleviate upward pressure on food prices. This, however, is not enough; the crisis still looms before us and more collective effort is needed.



  • More information on the OECD meeting is available here.


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