Leaders of the WTO, FAO and WHO are calling on governments to minimize border restrictions related to food trade during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In a joint statement, QU Dongyu, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization; Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, and Roberto Azevedo, director-general of the World Trade Organization, said "now is the time to show solidarity, act responsibly and adhere to our common goal of enhancing food security, food safety and nutrition."
"When acting to protect the health and well-being of their citizens, countries should ensure that any trade-related measures do not disrupt the food supply chain," they wrote in their joint statement. "Such disruptions including hampering the movement of agricultural and food industry workers and extending border delays for food containers, result in the spoilage of perishables and increasing food waste."
Food uncertainty can create a global shortage, they say, which results in price spikes and price volatility.
"We learned from previous crises that such measures are particularly damaging for low-income, food-deficit countries and to the efforts of humanitarian organizations to procure food for those in desperate need."
The trio called for international cooperation and protection of food producers and food workers.
"We must also ensure that information on food-related trade measures, levels of food production, consumption and stocks, as well as on food prices, is available to all in real time. This reduces uncertainty and allows producers, consumers and traders to make informed decisions. Above all, it helps contain ‘panic buying’ and the hoarding of food and other essential items."
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